A Commodore and a Tiger share girls’ basketball All-Star honors
VERGENNES — Although Coach Connie LaRose’s Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ basketball team did not earn its third straight Division II title this winter, the Eagles compiled a 15-7 record that was easily the area’s best despite a rash of injuries and illnesses.
Unsurprisingly, four of those Eagles are represented on the 2015 Addison Independent Girls’ Basketball All-Star Team, two achieving first-team recognition and two more earning honorable mention.
But top honors go to two other athletes who enjoyed exceptional individual seasons, the 2015 Addison Independent Co-Players of the Year: Vergennes junior Nikki Salley and Middlebury freshman Keagan Dunbar.
Salley’s strong work in the paint helped Coach Billy Waller’s Commodores win six times. A VUHS senior guard also received honorable mention.
Dunbar’s scoring and all-around play at guard made Coach Jen Heath’s 3-18 Tigers played more competitively this winter. An MUHS senior guard also earned honorable mention.
Coach Steven Keith’s Otter Valley team also finished at 3-18. A junior forward who hit the boards hard made the first team, and a senior OV guard received honorable mention.
Selections were based on statistics, observation and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following.
VERGENNES UNION HIGH School junior Nikki Salley is the Addison Independent High School Girls’ Basketball Co-Player of the Year. Independent file photo/Trent Campbell
NIKKI SALLEY, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: At five-foot-eight, came just a fraction of a rebound short of averaging a double-double at 11.6 points and 9.7 boards a game, both team highs and second-best totals locally … Showed improved touch and a quick release in the post, and the speed and ability to finish in transition … Hard-working rebounder and defender who picked up 2.0 steals a game and proved to be adept at taking charges … Often scored in bunches.
Waller’s Quotes: “Nikki’s improved over the last couple years. You can tell by the stats … In a lot of the games we are a plus team regardless of the competition with her on the floor … She’s improved on finishing around the rim … A huge advantage for us against the teams we play is most times she is the first forward down the floor … If we’re doing sprints at practice, if she’s not first, she’s second … Defensively, she holds her own.”
KEAGAN DUNBAR, MUHS FRESHMAN. Notes: Made an immediate impact by leading all local players with 14.5 points per game and leading the Tigers by averaging 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists … Aggressive point guard with ballhandling skills and court vision who always looks to push the ball hard … Finished well at the rim and improved her long-range shooting … Determined defender who was typically given tough assignments … Scored a program record 35 points in a December loss to D-I Burr and Burton.
Heath’s Quotes: “She was the player we could count on to score … We ran most everything through her … She was great at driving and getting the ball down the court quickly … She really developed her outside shot as the season wore on … Obviously, as a point guard it was pretty impressive to lead the team in rebounding … She played great pressure defense.”
AMY JONES, OV SENIOR. Notes: Fast, strong, athletic forward who at five-eight averaged a local high of 10.5 rebounds per game … Worked on her outside shot to go with improved ballhandling and a quick step to the basket and averaged a team-high 7.2 points … Smart and aggressive defender who blocked a local high of 3.3 shots per game.
Keith’s Quotes: “She was one of the hardest-working kids on the team … Amy is a match-up problem for a lot of people … She really started to catch and shoot the ball better this year, which made her more of a threat … She fights every play … She’s so fast… Defensively she makes up for a lot of mistakes … You won’t find a nicer kid … She really has a great attitude.”
ISABEL BRENNAN, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Three-year starting center who despite missing three games and being dogged by illness for the final nine games, averaged 7.1 points (also despite being the focus of other teams’ defenses), 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and a local high of 3.5 assists … Team leader and smart player with excellent court vision who improved her jump-shooting range, passing and defense … Excellent communicator on the floor, especially on defense.
LaRose’s Quotes: “She started out really strong for us … She never really got back close to 100 percent, and she was trying … She battled. She said, ‘I will try, I will do what I can do’… She did a lot of good things for us. She still got rebounds … She would draw all the attention and dump the ball off … She improved her footwork. She became a better defender.”
EMMA CARTER, MT. ABE FRESHMAN. Notes: Made an immediate impact offensively with a team-high 10.6 points per game, third highest locally … Good outside shooter with an assortment of moves in the post … Capable of finishing with either hand … Added 3.0 rebounds per game, many on the offensive glass.
LaRose’s Quotes: “She had a strong freshman year … She’s probably one of the hardest workers on the team … She’s hungry … I think her decision-making will improve as she gains experience … She’s strong, and she’s coordinated … She’s got a nice perimeter shot, and she can get to the rim … She certainly can catch passes. She’s got good hands.”
K.C. AMBROSE, VUHS SENIOR: Notes: Smart passer and fine ballhandler who became Waller’s first point guard at VUHS to record more assists (3.0 per game) than turnovers … Chipped in 5.7 points per game … Accomplished defender on and off the ball who averaged 1.9 steals … Team leader and intense competitor who served as the team’s only captain.
Waller’s Quotes: “She cut her turnovers down by half … K.C.’s decision-making was twice as good as it used to be … She hit some big shots for us this year … She’s super competitive … I have not noticed that she is usually four inches shorter than the players she goes up against … She was an alert defender … She is a good kid. We’re going to miss her.”
KEEGAN JACKMAN, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Strong defender who led all local players with 3.0 steals per game … Averaged 4.1 points and 2.3 assists per game, numbers that would have been better if not for a midseason thumb injury that came when she was playing her best … Good passer and ballhandler who could penetrate and finish with either hand.
LaRose’s Quotes: “Keegan was willing to get to the rim … Keegan was one of my top two defenders … She was a smart defender. She listened to what we needed to have done, and went out and followed the game plan … She was not only a good individual defender, but a good team defender … She had a stretch there where it was all coming together.”
JEN GORDON, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Six-foot forward who averaged 5.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.55 blocks and 1.5 assists per game … Came up big when Brennan missed time, including a 12-point, six-block effort in a win at MUHS that included six straight points after the Tigers came within two in the third period … Good help defender who shows soft touch with either hand down low.
LaRose’s Quotes: “She had games where she would have three blocks, four blocks … She made some nice post moves … Jen really worked hard this year to become more of an offensive threat and a tougher defender, and I thought she accomplished both of those goals … She was certainly a solid team player for us.”
KRISANDRA PROVENCHER, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: All-around player who adapted well to a switch from forward to guard and improved her jump shot … Averaged 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, numbers that got better in the second half of the season … Tossed in 13 at VUHS in four-point win to conclude the regular season … Smart defender.
Heath’s Quotes: “She came on strong … She was recognizing when she had open shots, and she did a good job recognizing when the shot wasn’t there and driving… We moved her to the guard position, and she did a great job making that adjustment … She worked hard in practice, and you could really see it as the season went on … As she took on her offensive role, she really picked up her defense.”
LAURA BETH ROBERTS, OV SENIOR. Notes: Determined defender at guard who assumed a larger offensive role after injuries struck OV … Finished with 6.2 points per game, second on the team, and showed three-point shooting range … Hit 82 percent of her free throws … Accepted tough defensive assignments.
Keith’s Quotes: “She took an increased role for us this year … She played some of the better guards… Offensively she was our main outside weapon… Her second-half shooting really improved … Her on-the-ball defense improved … She was very active in terms of communication … She plays extremely hard.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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