OCH Regional Medical Center Athlete of the Week: Kirkwood

Akeem Kirkwood
By: 
ROBBIE FAULK
Staff Writer

It’s become commonplace at Choctaw County that as Akeem Kirkwood goes, so do the Chargers.

Choctaw County is 7-4 in the early season as conference play is right around the corner and Kirkwood leads the way in all facets averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, three assists and two steals this year. He’s emerged on college radars with his play and it’s not much of a surprise to coach Gary Beals.

“He is exceeding my expectations," Beals said. "He’s put us on his back and carried us. The last three weeks, he’s playing unbelievable and the thing is he’s doing it against double teams. The stat that a lot of people don’t see is the rebounds and that’s the part where he helps us the most.”

The last week showed just how vital that Kirkwood is for his team.

Kirkwood dominated the East Webster Christmas Tournament helping his team to a third-place finish. It started in a loss to Baldwyn to begin the tournament where Kirkwood scored 25 points. He added 16 in a blowout victory over Winston Academy and dazzled against Starkville Academy in the final game with his 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting. He was perfect in the first quarter when he scored 22 points and ended the game with a double-double as he posted 10 rebounds in the game.

“He was in a zone,” Beals said. “I told him that for us to be successful, he’s got to score in the 20’s. He’s a total team player and he doesn’t want to shoot it a lot, but he’s got to score for us to be our best. He gets to the gym and he works.”

Kirkwood wanted more out of himself and the team following that Baldwyn loss and challenged the others to step their game up. They all delivered, but especially Kirkwood who posted 71 points and 26 rebounds total in the three-game tournament.

“I had a slow start against Baldwyn, but the team picked it up,” Kirkwood said. “I didn’t like that loss and we had to get better. The team played well. We kept our heads up.

“I feel like we’re in a good spot right now. We’re playing good ball and against great teams. We have to improve our inside game. I’m confident in us moving forward.”

Playing some solid basketball with conference play on the way, Beals echoed Kirkwood’s thoughts that the team is in a good spot. With his star player leading the way, he expects the Chargers to contend the rest of the season.

“He pushes them and gets on them,” Beals said. “He had a good, physical practice (Tuesday) and has everyone ready to play. He makes everybody better.”

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