The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year
After a massive disruption by COVID-19, covering more than two years, sports returned in a major way in 2022, and among the medal winners and record breakers were Bahamian women under the age of 20 years old.
Standing front and center, according to The Nassau Guardian’s sports team, is a young female who excelled in a number of sports. Reference is to Dior-Rae Scott who now becomes the youngest-ever winner of The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year.
At just 14, the young sensational athlete remarkably has five more years of eligibility as a junior athlete, raising excitement of what could be possible from her in the immediate future.
Scott has excelled in athletics, basketball and softball. She is a superb athlete in all three, but it is in the girls javelin where she really made her mark in 2022. Scott qualified and went to the CARIFTA Games for The Bahamas, and not only won a gold medal for her home country, but she shattered a 15-year CARIFTA record with a massive personal best throw.
Scott turned in a winning toss of 44.57 meters (m) – 146’ 2” – to break the former record of 42.90m (140’ 9”) that was turned in by Barbados’ Deandra Dottin in 2007. Scott was masterful in her command of the javelin at the 49th CARIFTA Games at the Jamaica National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, thrilling the fans in attendance with the record-breaking performance. She finished nearly six feet ahead of the nearest competitor, Kenika Cassar of Trinidad and Tobago, who had a best toss of 42.86m (140’ 7”). Suerena Alexander, of Grenada, won the bronze medal with a toss of 42.57m (139’ 8”).
Young Scott got progressively better in the javelin as the 2022 season progressed – going from a 38.19m (125’ 3”) effort at the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Track and Field Meet in March to the record-breaking performance at CARIFTA. She won the only gold medal for The Bahamas in the under-17 girls division at CARIFTA.
Scott was also a national team member for The Bahamas in basketball in 2022, representing the country at the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Centrobasket Under-15 (U15) Women’s Championship in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Scott was one of the leaders of the team and helped lead The Bahamas to a fourth place finish. She averaged 32.5 minutes per game for The Bahamas and finished fourth on the team in scoring.
Scott is also a strong softball player, coming up under the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN). She earned two first-place votes and one second-place vote in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year, thereby falling one spot short of a unanimous selection. The sky is the limit for the young Bahamian athlete.
Finishing second in the voting process is basketball player Denika Lightbourne with 25 points. Lightbourne is a former national team player for The Bahamas in basketball and is coming off a junior season in high school in which she led the Tallulah Falls School (TFS) Lady Indians in scoring with 342 total points, averaging 22.8 points per game. The total figure of 342 points ranks eighth in single-season scoring in school history.
Lightbourne led the Lady Indians to their first-ever Region Championship and Elite 8 appearance last season, resulting in a number seven state ranking for the team which plays out of Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Lightbourne also had 157 rebounds, 70 assists, 68 steals and 16 blocks last season while earning a second straight First Team All-Region honor.
Lightbourne is a four-year starter for TFS and has amassed 971 points, just 29 shy of 1,000 for her career. She also has 433 rebounds, 231 assists, 219 steals and 38 blocks.
Lightbourne becomes the first TFS girls basketball player to play at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level, signing a letter of intent with the University of Dayton Flyers in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton plays out of the Atlanta 10 Conference in NCAA Division I basketball.
Swimmer Rhanishka Gibbs who represented The Bahamas on a global level this year, finished third in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year, with 24 points.
Gibbs competed at the FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru, and also the 16th FINA World Short Course (25m) Championships in Melbourne, Australia. She was also a standout swimmer for The Bahamas at the 35th CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Bridgetown, Barbados, turning in exceptional performances along the way.
At CARIFTA, in particular, Gibbs won four bronze medals and a silver, with individual bronze medals coming in the 15-17 girls 50 and 200m breast and the 50m fly, and relay silver and bronze coming in the girls 4x50m free and the 4x100m medley respectively.
Individually, she clocked times of 33.21 seconds and 2:51.94 in the girls 50 and 200m breast events, and 28.79 seconds in the 50m fly. They are just off her personal best times of 33.11 seconds in the 50m breast, 2:48.09 in 200m breast and 28.62 seconds in the 50m fly.
Track athlete Shatalya Dorsett, who won a silver medal in the under-17 girls 100m at the CARIFTA Games this year, and basketball player Rhema Collins, who has signed a letter of intent to play with Bahamian Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Lady Rebels women’s basketball team, finished fourth and fifth in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year for 2022.