After spending her eighth-grade and freshman seasons as a standout at Wellborn, she transferred to Anniston. But with the Bulldogs, she faced a new role as a sophomore — first player off the bench.
She no longer was one of the team’s stars, but even so, she developed and wound up as Anniston’s second-leading scorer.
“She learned the system,” Bulldogs coach Eddie Bullock said. “At first, she was trying to figure us out and what plays we run and we were trying to get her in the mindset that we’re in. She finally got it going in and she put up great numbers.”
When her time as a starter came this past season, she produced plenty for Anniston.
The junior center averaged 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks a game. She helped the Bulldogs post a 28-5 record and the Northeast Regional semifinals.
As a result, she is The Anniston Star’s Class 4A-6A Calhoun County girls basketball player of the year.
In addition, she made the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A all-state first team and was a finalist for 4A girls player of the year.
“I knew I was going to have to step up, pick up the slack and be the leading scorer on the team,” Bolton said. “You just have to go into every game with confidence.”
It was the confidence that Bullock instilled in his star player that helped her lead the team to the Northeast Regional, where Anniston lost to Madison County. But, just as her junior year outshined her sophomore season, she is working to make her senior year the best yet.
“We started grinding the day after we lost,” said Bolton, who is drawing interest from Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. “It’s hard going through the summer knowing we should have won. It’s basically motivation for us. We know what we have to do.
“We know that we could have won state.”
At the moment, Bolton is working on her ball-handling and dribbling skills. She figures that even though she is a center in high school, she likely will play forward or guard on the wing.
And yet, there’s no telling how much more damage Bolton will do in high school before going on to the next level.
“I’m pretty sure she’s going to put up better numbers next year,” Bullock said. “I think she’s capable of averaging anywhere from 30 to 35 points per game and about 20 rebounds. It’s an obtainable goal and she can dominate.
“She can do it easily.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.