Eagle sophomore leads Independent team

ADDISON COUNTY — A deep and disciplined Mount Abraham Union High School group enjoyed the best season among local girls’ basketball teams, earning the top seed in Division II and reaching the final in Barre.
While the hard-working Eagles had many contributors, one stood out for her across-the-board efforts — sophomore Ashlie Fay, the 2012 Addison Independent Player of the Year.
Coach Connie LaRose’s Eagles finished at 19-4 as she typically played nine or 10 of her players. One more of her athletes is recognized here on the 2012 Addison Independent Girls’ Basketball All-Star Team.
Coach Cindy Atkins’s Middlebury squad shrugged off a disappointing 1-8 start to finish at 7-12, including a dramatic comeback win over the Eagles. Three Tigers earned either first-team or honorable mention.
Coach Billy Waller’s Vergennes squad won six times, with the team’s best effort probably a win over MUHS to close the regular season. Two Commodore seniors are honored here.
Coach Ray Counter’s young and under-sized Otters ended up with a misleading 4-15 record: Nine of their 15 losses were by nine points or fewer and included late season setbacks by five and six points to D-II semifinalists Fair Haven and Hartford, respectively. Three of OV’s many sophomores earned Independent recognition.
Independent all-star picks are made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
ASHLIE FAY, MOUNT ABE SOPHOMORE, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Blossomed as a starter for the Eagles in her second year on the varsity … Led Mount Abe with averages of 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 4.5 assists per game, with her averages in the latter two categories tops among all local players … Quick, strong athlete who played excellent on-ball defense and was lethal in the Eagle press reading passing lanes … Used her speed and passing ability to key the Eagles’ transition game … As the season progressed added an outside shot to her ability to drive and score with either hand.
LaRose’s Quotes: “She’s just completely relaxed on the court … She’s got a great first step, and handles the ball really well … Defensively, she anticipates extremely well, and obviously she’s got great quickness and speed … She can beat you in many, many ways … She does a great job on tracking the ball coming off the rim (while rebounding) … She really is the complete package.”
HANNAH CURLER, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Strong, six-foot center who overcame an injury-plagued start to her season to average local bests in points (12.1), rebounds (11.5) and blocked shots (3.5) … Solid on-ball or help defender who changed more shots than she blocked, and controlled the defensive boards … Came on strong with a series of impressive games in February.
Waller’s Quotes: “She put up numbers and she didn’t really get going until halfway through the season … The last nine games she really turned it on … She made some offensive rebounds. She made some post moves. She made some outside shots … She made an impact on the defensive end … She was a really good defensive rebounder.
MADISON FULLER, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Five-seven forward who joined the MUHS team after Tropical Storm Irene damaged Rochester High School and made an immediate impact with a team-high 10.8 points per game … Poised player who showed both three-point shooting range and clever moves and nice touch in the paint … Scored big in several fourth quarters, and chipped in 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.
Atkins’ Quotes: “She just has such solid footwork in the post … She was just such a strong leader … She had a very calming influence on the team as far as composure on the court … She really does have a nice outside shot … She’s a good ballhandler … She has a good sense of passing lanes and distributing the ball … She is very crafty and plays much taller than she is.”
JORDAN MITCHELL, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Led the Otters with 10.19 points per game despite increasingly becoming the focus of opposing defenses … Shot 30 percent from behind the arc and improved her ballhandling, passing and rebounding, averaging 1.67 assists and 3.24 rebounds … Also chipped in 1.19 steals per game with hard work defensively.
Counter’s Quotes: “Jordan’s our best outside shooter … She’s got a quick release on her shot … She improved her defense … She has a tremendous upside as far as leading our team next year … She’s one of those ones who’s a gym rat … She’s always out there working, working, working … She’s looking to improve in all areas, which is great.”
TIFFANY DANYOW, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Floor leader who is an excellent ballhandler and defender and contributed more scoring and rebounding to the Tigers this winter despite dealing with injuries … Averaged 7.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 assists per game.
Atkins’ Quotes: “In a lot of ways we were a better team with Tiffany on the court … She doesn’t back down from anything. She plays hard … Team defensively, she’s probably the best defender out there … She has good ballhandling skills … She has a solid outside shot that really came on in the course of the season.”
TABBY DANYOW, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Relentless, fast defender both on the ball and in the team concept, averaging 4.2 steals per game, second best locally … A natural wing player, was asked to take over the point and responded with 3.8 assists per game, also second best locally … At five-six, hauled down 6.99 rebounds per game … Averaged 6.7 points, second for VUHS.
Waller’s Quotes: “In an ideal world she could be a great wing player, but she improved in a lot of aspects of her game … She’s lightning-quick defensively and she’s a very good rebounding guard … She was very aggressive. She didn’t back down from anything … You didn’t have to worry about her frame of mind … We needed her on the floor.”
TAYLOR AINES, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Point guard who led OV with 4.19 rebounds and 3.38 assists per game while chipping in 6.38 points and 1.48 steals per contest … Came on strong in leadership and overall play in the second half of the season.
Counter’s Quotes: “Taylor has become the true leader of the team … She really took that leadership role on the court … She’s a tremendous rebounder for her size. She has a nose for the ball … It’s hard to find another player that will outwork her … She’s improved her ballhandling tremendously.”
BRITTANY BUSHEY, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Quick, athletic all-around contributor and excellent defender who showed increasing poise offensively as the season progressed, scoring 20 points in a late win vs. Springfield … Averaged 8.19 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.67 steals and 1.24 assists.
Counter’s Quotes: “She’s one of the quickest girls on the team … I had her defend the other teams’ best perimeter players … She accepts the challenge … She’s really improving about taking the basket to the rim and using her quickness to her advantage … She’s getting more confident with her outside shots.”
CHRISSY RITTER, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Five-eight forward who learned to use her speed and athletic ability on the court better this winter and led the Tigers with 5.4 rebounds per game … Improved her post moves and jumper and averaged 5.4 points … Steady on-ball and team defender who averaged 2.1 steals.
Atkins’ Quotes:“She’s a very good defender … She’s long and lanky and athletic … She really developed into a solid post player this year … She had a really solid drive … She would get around people … She really contributed both offensively and defensively.”
SARA SAYLES, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Tenacious, speedy defender and three-year starter at guard for the Eagles … Averaged 5.5 points and 2.6 assists, and was particularly effective in transition finishing and moving the ball … Team leader who contributed 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game.
LaRose’s Quotes: “Sara’s strength, certainly, is her defense. She is relentless on defense. She just got after the ball … Sara was a premier defensive player … She has great quickness … She could get to the rim … She made some good passes in the course of the season. She kept her head up.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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