Another thing they have in common is that they’re both very good scorers.
Potter and Carter not only lead their respective teams in scoring, but they are also tops in the county, each averaging more than 20 points per contest.
“I feel like we’re accomplishing something great together, and it’s giving people a reason to talk about our school,” Carter said.
Potter had similar thoughts as well.
“I think what we’re doing is really special,” he said. “Sprayberry’s not known as a big basketball school, so for us to have the leading scorers in boys and girls basketball is a big surprise for everybody.”
It is a unique situation, given the number of schools in the county. However, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility given what these two players have endured.
Potter, a 6-foot-1 junior guard in his second varsity season, grew up in a basketball family on Long Island in his native New York. His brother, Amonte, and cousin, Alijah Bennett, also played basketball at Sprayberry before graduating last year and the younger Potter believes playing against his family members all the time made him a better player.
Potter, who, through 21 games, was averaging 26.2 points and shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent from the free-throw line, is constantly working on improving his game, and he stays active on the court.
“I’m always moving around so I can find ways to score,” he said. “I see a lot of the things and defenses that are going on around me, and I just try to avoid it.
“I’m surprised I’m scoring so well. I feel like I’m taking my game to a whole new level because I didn’t see myself having so much production.”
Potter’s coach saw it, though.
According to Marc Carver, last year’s Sprayberry team had several scoring options at its disposal. Potter, who was a starter, averaged only seven points per game and didn’t need to be the No. 1 scoring option like he is now. However, glimpses of his abilities were evident, especially after he scored 30 points in a game against Pope.
“I’m not surprised he’s putting up these numbers,” Carver said. “I knew he would do it, and we count on him to.”
Potter has even adjusted to defenders guarding him. Whether it’s a box-and-1, or a double- or triple-team, he still finds a way to score.
“He’s our only returning starter and our go-to-player,” Carver added. “He can go left or right, he shoots 3s, he drives to the basket and gets fouled. He can do so many things on the court, and he’s tough to stop. He’s led us in scoring in every game except one.
“He’s a great kid with a quiet demeanor. He’s likeable, coachable and a pleasure to have on the team.”
Carter’s background is similar to Potter’s. The 5-9 senior small forward has been playing basketball since she was 6 years old. She tried lots of other sports, but basketball was her best and her favorite, and it was the sport her family played.
Carter, however, has suffered through two ACL injuries and three meniscus tears since the eighth grade, yet she keeps coming back for more.
In her first two seasons, playing at Wheeler, Carter went down with injuries during the first scrimmage of her freshman and sophomore seasons.
As a Sprayberry junior, Carter, a team captain, managed to stay on the court long-term, averaging 17.5 points per game, but her season was cut short towards the end of the year because of another injury,
But she’s come back just as strong this season, averaging 21.4 points through 22 games.
“I just love the game, and that’s why I keep coming back,” said Carter, who also leads the Lady Yellow Jackets in rebounds and blocks, and is second on the team in assists and steals.
“My goal is to be a well-rounded player. I’m more efficient with my shots, so that’s why I think I’m scoring so well, but being well-rounded in all areas is my biggest goal. My strengths are driving to the basket and attacking the rim, and I’m most proud that I’m leading the team in rebounding. That takes a lot of work to beat the taller girls to the ball.”
It’s her workman-like approach that appeals to coach Mark Giles.
“She’s a terrific basketball player,” he said. “She’s well-rounded and unselfish and I can’t say enough about her. The one thing that Neena stands out in is her work ethic is second to none.
“She finds weaknesses in her game and focuses on them. Her ability to shoot well from the outside reflects the work she’s put in. She plays great defense and creates opportunities for herself and her teammates on offense. She’s improved as a player since her junior year.”
Much like her counterpart on the boys team.
“When you have kids like (Potter) and Neena that want to get better every day, it’s an extreme joy,” Giles said.