Queen Alford learned how to be a team player long before she began playing basketball at Decatur High School.
As the middle child in a household of 10 children, Alford learned the value of hard work from her mother Angelia Reeves, a single mother with children ranging in age from 8 to 21 years. Eight of the siblings are still in the home, Alford said.
“My motivation comes from my mom,” Alford said. “She motivates me to get an education. She’s gone through something I don’t want to go through. She’s a very strong lady.”
Alford’s hard work in the classroom and on the basketball court has earned her an athletic scholarship to Jacksonville University in Florida. She also was recruited by Georgia State, East Tennessee State and Southern Mississippi.
Alford has been a starter on the varsity since her freshman season and has evolved into the heart and soul of the Bulldogs. She averages 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals per game.
“Having a lot of siblings has its benefits,” said second-year Decatur coach Bill Roberts. “They all work hard in the classroom and in practice. Being one of a crowd, you learn to be part of a team early on.”
Two of Alford’s siblings also have played basketball at Decatur. An older sister, Jabreal Alford, is now at Andrews Junior College and younger sister Jahmee Reeves is a freshman on the Decatur basketball team.
Inspired by her mother, Alford has become more of a vocal leader on the court this season.
“Last year she put the team on her back,” Roberts said. “This year we have a little more depth and everybody knows the system now. She plays hard but she’s more relaxed. She can do more to lead both verbally and through her actions.”
The Bulldogs last season met Roberts’ team goals of winning 20 games and qualifying for the Class AA state tournament. The Bulldogs finished 21-9 and lost in the first round to Rabun County. Decatur has started 14-3 this season and stands 2-1 in Region 6-AA.
Alford references a practice last summer with her AAU team that triggered her to become more verbal on the basketball court. Her coach imparted the following advice: “A quiet gym is a loser’s gym.”
She carried that mantra over to her high school team.
“In practice it was so quiet,” Alford said. “I can’t stand that so I started talking. I am outgoing in general. There’s a place and time when I need to step in. I usually lead from behind but I’m talking a lot more this season.
“This past year I’m a lot more verbal,” she said. “I had to come out of my shell and be a more verbal leader. I need that energy on the court.”
Both Roberts and Alford agree that the Bulldogs are benefiting from better team chemistry this season. Jordan Dillard is consistently scoring in double figures along with Alford, and other players are stepping up as well.
“Everybody is playing their roles and we’ve developed chemistry,” Roberts said. “She’s surrounded by more talented players than in the past.”
Alford admits it has been more fun so far this season.
“We have a lot of people who are more dedicated than in the past,” Alford said. “Everybody wants to be here and wants to be successful. I’ve always wanted to play with people without drama and that’s what’s happening this season.”
In addition to playing in a region that boasts some of the top-ranked teams in the state, Roberts has filled Decatur’s schedule with teams in higher classifications. The Bulldogs have responded with marquee wins over AAA Woodward Academy and AAAAA Collins Hill.
Despite the team and personal success, Alford keeps her mother’s motivation close by.
“I’ve always been an athletic person and a hard worker,” Alford said. “I’ve got a long way to go. I’m a perfectionist so if I see anything I need to improve on, I fix it. I want to be stronger, faster, quicker and shoot better.”