New-look Trojans tip off Thursday at home

Senior guard Matalyn “Mattie” Cesarini is the reigning team MVP for Kent County High School. She and four other players return from last year’s 5-15 campaign.

WORTON — Though Kent County High School has had a varsity girls basketball program since the school opened its doors nearly 50 years ago, it is not a stretch to say that the Trojans are ushering in a new era in 2019-20.

There’s a new head coach, a handful of first-year high school players and a couple of others who are returning after pursuing other athletic interests in 2018-19.

Kent tips off 4 p.m. Thursday at home against Mardela, the first game of a girls-boys twin bill.

This will mark the basketball coaching debut of Tishara Collins, a transplant from Crisfield High School who is in her second year as a math teacher at KCHS. Previously, she coached track at Washington High School.

Collins succeeds Carroll Jackson-Smith, whose 31-year tenure as the Trojans’ coach includes two region championships.

Jackson-Smith retired from teaching for Kent County Public Schools at the end of the 2017-18 school year but continued as the high school basketball coach last season.

The entire Collins family has made the move to Kent County — daughter Kayla is a senior guard/forward on the girls team and son Kayleb is a junior on the boys team.

Kayla Collins is 32 points away from hitting the career 1,000-point milestone.

Others suiting up for the Trojans for the first time are senior guard Logan Pinder; junior guard/forward Sierra Frain, who previously played for Chestertown Christian Academy; sophomore guard/forward Hannah Beattie, who wrestled last year; and three freshmen — guard Aaliyah Houston, guard Ty’Aishah Moody and center Alyssa Thomason — who starred last year on Kent County Middle School’s 9-0 team.

The other newcomer is assistant coach Jasmine Robinson, who was an assistant at North Dorchester last year and also coaches the Delmarva Divas AAU team.

Back after a year, or more, away from the sport are senior guard Tanae Johnson and senior forward Ally Hickman.

Johnson played as a freshman and a sophomore, and then was a member of the KCHS cheerleading squad last winter, earning MVP honors.

Hickman also played as a freshman before deciding to devote more time to her primary sport, which is softball. Last month, she signed a National Letter of Intent with Division I Towson University.

Returnees from last year’s 5-15 team are sophomores Sydney Usilton (guard) and Cheyenne Blockston (forward); juniors Olivia Jones (forward/center) and Deja Dawson (forward); and senior Matalyn “Mattie” Cesarini, the reigning team MVP.

“We have several returning players that are showing a lot of promise, and we have gained some new talent through transfers and freshmen,” coach Collins wrote in an email Monday.

“We are looking forward to this season and believe with our current roster we have the ability to go far,” Collins said. “The girls are working hard to learn new plays and increase their skill level. There have been a lot of changes from players to coaches, and we are all so very excited and looking forward to the season.”

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