Coahoma County High School senior Nakia Cheatham has been one of the state’s top athletes for four years and competing for championships since she was a freshman.
Cheatham, a power forward on the basketball team, started as a freshman as the Lady Red Panthers advanced to the Class 2A state championship game where they lost. They were once again runner-ups her senior year. She also won the 400-meter run state championship in track as a freshman with a time of 61 seconds. She repeated as a sophomore recalling a finish of somewhere between 50 and 61 seconds.
Cheatham’s latest award came from Mississippi Play Sports on Sunday where top girls 50 seniors in the state were named. She was ranked No. 23 and finished the 2019-20 season averaging a double-double with 14.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.
Coach Derrick Moore called Cheatham his most versatile player.
“Somebody crossed and my name and recognized it,” Cheatham said. “It’s good to No. 23 of 50 seniors.”
Looking back on her career, Cheatham said her best game was the 2019-20 season opener in Clarksdale High School’s tournament when the Lady Red Panthers defeated the Lady Wildcats 52-46.
Cheatham finished with one of her many double-doubles on the season with 33 points, 19 rebounds and 7 steals.
“I had scored 33 points because I wanted to beat my mom’s high score,” Cheatham said.
Cheatham’s mom, Nitosha Berry, was a forward at Jefferson County High School and scored close to 30 points in one game.
Cheatham also scored more than 1,100 points during her high school career. She surpassed the 1,000-point total in a 58-16 home win against division opponent O’Bannon where she scored 26 points, collected 17 rebounds, had 1 assist and 1 steal.
“I look back at and realize that I know that I’m going to be remembered,” Cheatham said. “Everybody that talks about Lady Red Panthers basketball, I know they’re probably going to think of me and other teammates.”
All public schools in Mississippi are out until at least April 17 due to the coronavirus. However, Cheatham said she plans to make sure she stays in shape when school starts again as her plan is to continue playing basketball next season.
“I will try to make it somewhere in basketball,” Cheatham said. “If that doesn’t work, I always have a backup plan.”
Cheatham hopes to play for Alcorn State University. She manages to balance her time between academics and athletics as an A and B student.
“I try to make time for everything,” said Cheatham of how she excels on the court and in the classroom. “That’s pretty much it.”
Track season was cancelled for the spring, so her sole athletic focus is now basketball. She just missed winning high school state championship in basketball, but has her sights on earning a title in college.
“It makes me feel that I’m tired of being so close,” Cheatham said. “I want to finish the job, getting the job done. I’m tired of making it there and not finishing. In college, when I get to that position again, I’m going to make it my duty to finish the job.”
If Cheatham is fortunate enough to win a championship in college, she said she would celebrate with her high school teammates.
“They know that everything I do is for them,” Cheatham said.