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Ole Miss-bound Stephenson fuels Princess Anne

Cavalier senior guard earns Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week
ZAKIYA STEPHENSON
Posted at 12:12 AM, Mar 04, 2023

NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Zakiya Stephenson is powering Princess Anne during her senior season, a season that the Cavaliers hope will end with another state championship.

Stephenson has known basketball would be her bread and butter since a young age.

"I first realized about when I was in the fourth grade that I was very, very, very special," she said.

It's a game that gives her an escape and a chance to showcase her competitive edge. That's evident to anybody who watches her take the court.

"It's very fun," Zakiya pointed out. "When I'm out here, I feel like nothing's there. I just feel the joy and happiness with my team and my coach. It's fun."

2023 has seen the senior guard pace Princess Anne to a Region 5A championship and earn Beach District Player of the Year honors. Stephenson posted more than 16 points per game and her contributions are not lost on Cavaliers' head coach Darnell Dozier.

"Everything," he said when asked what his star means to the team. "[Zakiya] keeps the team together, she does the scoring and everything else, she talks to them when they're having down days because I can make it bad for them."

"It means a lot," Stephenson said of her head coach's praise. "We crack jokes here and there but it means a lot. I know I've got him and he's got me."

Even after her final game in a Princess Anne uniform, Zakiya's playing days will continue. She's taking her skills down south and continuing her career at the University of Mississippi.

"The atmosphere there, the coaching staff, the way they carry everything, how Coach Yo (Yolett McPhee-McCuin) cares about all the players, it just hit different," she said of her decision to play for the Rebels.

Before she heads to Oxford, however, there's still unfinished business to take care of to cap off her high school career. The Cavaliers saw their streak of eight straight state titles snapped in 2022 and Stephenson and her teammates want to take them back to the top of the commonwealth.

"We carry that chip on our shoulder very much," she said of last year's defeat in the state quarterfinals. "It was a disappointment, we've come back this year with fire and we just come in here and show we're going to win the state."

Zakiya and Princess Anne avenged last year's state quarterfinal loss to Norview on Friday night, topping the Pilots in the same round, 54-51. They'll face defending state champion Menchville in Monday's quarterfinals.

If you have a nominee for Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week, send an email to marc.davis@wtkr.com.