Eagle, Tiger are top picks

ADDISON COUNTY — Two high school seniors who helped their teams reach Barre Auditorium share 2011 Addison IndependentGirls’ Basketball Player of the Year honors, Mount Abraham’s Jenn Loyer and Middlebury’s Katie Ritter.
Three more seniors, one each from Otter Valley, Vergennes and Middlebury, join them on the 2011 Addison Independent Girls’ Basketball All-Stars first team.
Loyer took the court for Coach Connie LaRose’s 15-8 Eagles, who reached the Division II finals before falling to defending champion Lamoille. A junior post player on the Eagle squad earned honorable mention here.
Ritter played for Coach Cindy Atkins’ 10-13 Tigers, who won two playoff games — one in overtime on the road — to earn a berth in the semifinals. Another Tiger senior made the Independentfirst team.
Coach Ray Counter’s OV young squad included a half-dozen freshmen in its regular rotation and finished at 7-13. The only senior in that rotation earned a first-team selection here, and two of those freshmen merited honorable mention.
Coach Billy Waller’s Commodores went 5-17, including a number of close setbacks and a solid playoff win at OV. A four-year varsity athlete earned a first-team Independentnod, and two juniors received honorable mention.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
JENN LOYER, SENIOR, MOUNT ABE, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR.Notes: Talented, strong point guard who contributed in every statistical category, leading the Eagles with averages of 10.7 points, 5.1 assists and 6.4 steals per game … Snatched 4.2 rebounds per game … Has fine ballhandling skills and terrific floor vision … Excellent team defender who reads passing lanes, and has quick hands … Had 22 points, 10 steals, eight rebounds and six assists in semifinal win, and hit late go-ahead trey in tight quarterfinal victory.
LaRose’s Quotes:“I feel she grew as a player in so many ways … She really tried to keep all her teammates involved in the offense. She did a much better job of distributing the ball … She’s a tremendous ballhandler, and obviously an amazing passer … She has great instincts for the game. It’s the stuff you can’t teach … Those instincts just don’t come around very often.”
KATIE RITTER, SENIOR, MUHS, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR.Notes: Gifted all-around athlete and four-year starter who this winter became the third MUHS girls’ basketball player to top the 1,000-point mark, finishing with 1,061 … Led all local players with 15.3 points per game … Led MUHS with 6.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game … Has great speed, quickness, ballhandling ability and shooting range, and defends with intensity … Scored 26 points as the No. 5 Tigers won in OT at No. 4 U-32 in the playoffs.
Atkins’ Quotes: “She’s an incredible athlete … She was everywhere … She plays her heart out. She’s a great kid to coach and a true competitor … She has the ability to pass the ball to open players and open spaces … When she stepped into her shot, she had a beautiful outside shot … She just has the complete package.”
KRISTY PINKHAM, SENIOR, OTTER VALLEY.Notes: Led the Otters in points (11.29 per game) while shooting 43 percent on two-point attempts and 45 percent from three-point range … At 5-foot-3, also led OV with 6.24 rebounds per game … Contributed 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while playing steady defense … As the only senior on the team, provided critical glue to a young group.
Counter’s Quotes: “She was our leader through and through … Senior leadership, she epitomized that this year … Her rebounding was the greatest improvement in her game … She was a better defensive player this year … She was the best player on the team. I wanted her to shoot more, and she was consistent … She was the heart and soul of the team throughout.”
ALI PROVOST, SENIOR, VUHS. Notes: Talented wing player who scored 12.4 points per game this winter to finish her four-year varsity career with 882 points … Averaged 3.2 boards and 2.0 steals with hard work on defense … Left-handed player with the ability to finish strong on the break or hit from behind the three-point line … Scored 26 as VUHS upset OV in the playoffs.
Waller’s Quotes:“She attacked the basket more this year … Her on-the-ball defense improved a lot … Not only did we lean on her to score, but every team we played knew that … As she went along, she learned to play with a target on her back … She always felt like she wasn’t doing enough. She’s very competitive.”
NICOLE BROWN, SENIOR, MUHS.Notes: After dealing with nagging early-season injuries, came on strong to average 10 points and six rebounds … Post player who is an effective scorer in half-court sets or in transition … Extended her shooting range to 15 feet or more and became dangerous from the foul line putting the ball on the floor … Smart positional defender.
Atkins’ Quotes: “It was nice to see Nicole blossom throughout the season … Her footwork in the post is just textbook at times … Some of her most impressive moves would be when she was sprinting in transition … I was impressed with how fast she would get from one end of the court to the other … She’s got a nice outside shot.”
TABBY DANYOW, JUNIOR, VUHS. Notes: Tough defender at the guard spot who led VUHS with 4.1 steals per game … Hit the boards hard and was second on the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game … Improved her shooting and ballhandling as season progressed, playing well in the playoffs and hitting 22 of her final 28 free throws … Averaged 5.3 points.
Waller’s Quotes:“She is 100 mph all the time … She has worked hard to improve … At the end of the year, she finished those layups … She can go by people with both hands … She reads passing lanes, but she can also pick pockets … We have high hopes for her next year.”
LYDIA STEARNS, JUNIOR, MOUNT ABE.Notes: Second in scoring for the Eagles at 8.6 points per game … Also averaged 4.5 rebounds … Post presence with the ability to put the ball on the floor … Could score in bunches, and had a knack of drawing fouls and making opponents pay at the free throw line.
LaRose’s Quotes:“She’s a strong kid … She’s got a nice touch around the basket … She’s got decent shooting range … She’s a very good free throw shooter … She showed a lot of improvement this year.”
HANNAH CURLER, JUNIOR, VUHS.Notes: Strong post presence who shrugged off an early-season injury to finish with averages of 7.3 points and local highs of 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks … Averaged 12 points per game over her final six contests … Improved her defensive work by cutting down on fouls.
Waller’s Quotes:“She learned to time things better (blocking shots) … She had a strong finish to the year. She picked it up down the stretch … She made good decisions in the middle of the court in our end against the press … She was more attuned to her role.”
JESSICA FRAZIER, FRESHMAN, OV. Notes: Speedy freshman who led OV with 3.9 steals per game … Fine defender on the ball capable of guarding backcourt or post players, and also lurks in passing lanes … Averaged 6.9 points per game and erupted for a season-high 18 in big early win at MUHS … Has three-point range, but prefers to slash to the basket.
Counter’s Quotes:“She was as quick as a cat … She was a sparkplug for the team, and the other kids seemed to feed off her when she was going well … She could get to the rim with her quickness and athleticism … She’s the most athletic one on the team.”
TAYLOR AINES, FRESHMAN, OV.Notes: Steady, reliable floor leader who often assumed ballhandling duties for the Otters and averaged 5.7 points and 2.0 assists …. Hit the boards for 3.8 rebounds per game from the guard spot, and played tough defense.
Counter’s Quotes:“Taylor Aines is just solid … She played point guard most of the year. She was not afraid to have the ball in her hands, and she played against some very tough defenders … She’s not the flashy one. She goes out there and works hard. She’s consistent in all facets of the game.”
Reporter Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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