Story by Jon Dinan
January 18 For the second year in a row, one local school boasts the county’s leading scorers in both boys’ and girls’ basketball.
Last year it was Liberty’s Eddie Byrd and Olivia Baum and now Fallsburg’s Rakki Watson and Nyasia Blakney sit atop the scoring statistics.
Watson who averages 24.1 points per, is an agile and athletic point guard with tremendous ball handling skills and uncanny ability to create his own shot.
Watson, a senior, began playing basketball when he joined his elementary school intramural team, has blossomed into a premier player who is being sought by several local schools including SUNY Sullivan, OCCC, and Ulster. Watson is leaning toward bringing his talents to OCCC next season.
“This year he’s the lead man and he’s learned throughout that experience how to be a good leader,” said Fallsburg coach Pete Dworetsky. “Even though he scoring all these points, it’s not like he needs his points. It’s happening naturally throughout the game.”
Last year Watson played in the shadow of Democrat all-star Michael Robinson and averaged around 10 points per game. He credits his teammates and some extra practice with his emergence as a top scorer.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym working on my left hand,” said Watson. “My teammates make me a better scorer. “I couldn’t do it without them. There are five people on the floor at a time. I can’t just dribble up and pull everytime. I have to rely on screens and teammates getting open to get me get open.
“I don’t think I possess a certain skill set that other players don’t,” said Watson. “ I think it’s about who wants it more,” Watson said.
Averaging an even 20 points per game, senior Nyasia Blakney is an imposing 5 feet 10 inches, yet nimble and quick. She is a strong post presence, but can also dribble and shoot from the outside.
“What makes her different than most is that she’s good on both ends of the floor,” said Fallsburg girls’ coach Daniel Redmond. “She can handle the ball well so she can dribble around big defenders and overpower smaller ones.
“She has a knack for knowing where the ball is, and positions herself well without the ball. She also knows the game very well and does a good job of getting her teammates involved,” Redmond added.
“Basketball is my game. It’s the game that I love playing, said Blakney, who didn’t start playing organized ball until 10th grade, though she started playing “street ball” in the fifth grade. “I hope to keep playing throughout college, and, if I improve enough, hopefully I can go pro.”
Like Watson, Blakney is also being recruited by SUNY Sullivan, SUNY Orange and SUNY Ulster and leaning toward Orange.
Both Blakney and Watson have led their respective teams to winning records so far this season. The Fallsburg boys are 6-3 and the Lady Comets are 7-3. Both teams have a legitimate shot at making deep post-season runs thanks in large part to their senior scoring sensations.
“These two players have really been successful in keeping Fallsburg basketball toward the top,” said Redmond.