Region VIII Tourney Most Outstanding Player Leilani Guion Overcomes Adversity to Lead Eastern Florida Titans
By Michael Parsons, EFSC Sports Information // March 23, 2023
Titans head into Thursday’s Tourney 31-1 on the season, have won 15 games in a row
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Leilani Guion’s basketball career has come full circle in the past three seasons.
The Eastern Florida State College guard was named the Most Outstanding Player after the team won the Region VIII Championship at Northwest Florida State College a little over a week ago.
But the Orlando native’s journey to holding up the trophy was not an easy one. Guion, who is called Stitch by her teammates, tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her junior season at Boone High School and EFSC women’s basketball coach MJ Baker was one of the only coaches that continued to recruit her as she came back from the injury in her senior season.
But during her journey back onto the court, Guion let her grades slip and became ineligible for her first season with the Titans. The error would cost the guard half of last season as well.
“It was definitely hard, it was my fault I dropped the ball with my grades and obviously there are going to be consequences to that. The consequence was not being eligible to play but at the same time it was a learning experience,” Guion said.
She took advantage of the time and worked hard on her game and her strength as her father helped her become stronger and more mobile, things she used to average 10.9 points this season, be named to both the All-Central Conference team as well as the All-State team before being named to the all-tournament team.
“He is definitely my trainer. I go back home and get in the gym with him and then go out to the courts and he lets me do my thing. He is my strength training and mobility and when I get on the court, he lets me do my thing, grabs my rebounds and works with me,” Guion said of her father, Rashard.
“It has always been him, since he has been young it has been one of his passions so to be able to share that with him is honestly beautiful.”
The work has paid off as she slowly worked her way back into the rotation last season, helping the team reach the NJCAA Division I National Tournament for the first time in program history.
Guion soaked it all in and worked hard in the offseason to make sure she was ready to make another run with the Titans.
“Definitely been a good year, coming back to the national tournament last year we were the No. 18 seed and we are now the No. 2 and it is great. We took out the No. 2 seed last year so to be the No. 2 seed, it is a great accomplishment,” said Guion who is in her third season with the Titans due to getting an extra year because of Covid. “We know we have a target on our back this year but to see how this team has elevated and grown is absolutely amazing.”
The team heads into Thursday’s game 31-1 on the season and have won 15 games in a row. They have done it with a balanced attack that has four players averaging double figures, including Guion, and a defense that holds opponents to 48.8 points per game this season.
Guion admits this team is as focused as they are talented.
“We have built a bond and it is an unbreakable bond, everyone has bought in and they want to put in the work and grit to be better,” Guion said. “At the end of the day, we all know what we are trying to get, we want the championship and winning the state championship just made everyone believe that we can do it. We can win this national championship, we are focused. As long as we go out, play hard and play with each other we have an opportunity here.”
An opportunity that Guion is not taking for granted, she has worked too hard to get her basketball career back on track to stop now.
“Looking back, it was a blessing and I thank God every day for being here. It is just a blessing and nothing I could have ever imagined,” Guion said.