PITTSBURG — Officially ending the 2016-17 high school basketball season, it is time to look at the Morning Sun All-County Girls’ Basketball Team.
The all-county basketball team is made up of 12 players — six first-team athletes and six players earning honorable mention — as well as a coach of the year honoree. The student-athletes were chosen based on on-court performance and leadership qualities by The Morning Sun’s sports editor, Lucas Davis, as well as freelance reporters Jordan Buckamneer and Glenn Storey.
2016-17 MORNING SUN ALL-COUNTY GIRLS BASKETBALL
Ashley Ray, senior, Girard
Davis: Anytime she stepped on the court, Ray was a force for Girard. She towered over many of her opponents, but her basketball skills are what led to her success in propelling the Trojans to their first ever state title in school history. Ray averaged 12.8 points per game and led the team in rebounding with 6.7 boards per contest. Perhaps her best attribute, Ray was second in the team in assists with 52, showing great court vision. Defensively, she finished with 98 blocks as a paint protector.
Taylor Muff, senior, Pittsburg
Davis: Muff had a senior year to remember. She joined the 1,000-point club, and finished as the all-time leading scorer in PHS girls’ history, with 1,131 career points. Muff led Pittsburg to an SEK title in one of the program’s best seasons to date. Muff averaged 15.8 points per game and pulled down 7.8 rebounds per contest, both team-high marks. While Muff was strong inside, her range away from the basket, including the ability to knock down 3-pointers regularly, made her invaluable to her team. At the defensive end of the court, she was second in blocks, with 13, and steals, with 47.
Calea Augustin, senior, Girard
Davis: While Ray’s size garnered her plenty of attention, Augustin’s effect on Girard’s season shouldn’t go unnoticed. She provided the Trojans with a superb effort on both ends of the floor, complimenting her teammates perfectly with efficient play. She led the team in scoring, putting up 14.4 points per game, showing the ability to make plays off the drive as well as spotting up and shooting. She was second in rebounding, with 6.4 boards a game, and closed the year with 37 assists. On the defensive end, Augustin was second in steals, with 61.
Sydnee Crain, junior, Girard
Buckamneer: Playing on one of the best teams in Girard High School history, Crain played the role of a floor general after being challenged by coach Brad Herlocker to be more of a distributer. Crain stepped up to the challenge by finding her teammates at the right time to give the Trojans easy scoring opportunities all season long. Crain was the engine of the offense and finished with a team-high 77 assists, so it was only fitting that the Trojans’ win in the state championship game was cemented after Crain went 8-8 from the charity stripe late in the game.
Kelsea Choate, senior, Northeast
Davis: Choate’s senior season capped off quite a career for the Viking. She closed as the all-time leading scorer and joined the 1,000-point club. Choate also has her name in the NHS history books as the all-time steals leader, with 237, and 3-point queen, finishing with 173 triples. In her final year with the Vikings, Choate averaged a team-high 17.4 points per game, knocking down 33 percent of her shots from beyond the arc. Her 81 steals this season led Northeast, and she added four rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Cathy Farmer, sophomore, St. Mary’s Colgan
Davis: Farmer stepped up in a big way for the Panthers, sliding into a starting role with a seamless transition. She led Colgan in scoring with 10.7 points a game, finding plenty of success from the perimeter as well as near the basket. Her 5.1 rebounds per contest were the most of any underclassmen for the SMC girls, and she added 1.2 assists-per-game average. On the defensive side, she averaged just under 1.5 steals per game.
Olivia Hanson, senior, Girard
Buckamneer: What Hanson provided for the Trojans on the floor didn’t always translate to the stat book, but her effort wasn’t undervalued for the state champs. Although Hanson proved to be a capable player on the offensive end, her perimeter defense and rebounding was relied upon heavily throughout the season. Hanson routinely shut down the opposing team’s best player on defense, crashed the glass on nearly every shot attempt and always seemed to be the first player on the floor for a loose ball.
Kaylee Harper, senior, Frontenac
Storey: Facing double teams nearly every game, Harper still led the Raiders with 11 points per game and 8.5 rebounds. She averaged nearly four rebounds per game on the offensive glass. To go along with her team leading points and rebounds, Harper also added a healthy average of 1.6 blocks per contest.
Emily Paterni, senior, St. Mary’s Colgan
Davis: Paterni proved to be a player every coach wants on their team. A hard worker who does her job and does it well. She closed her senior season with the Panthers as the second-leading scorer, putting up 7.6 points a game. Her value on the inside rebounding was unquestioned, leading Colgan with 9.1 boards a game. Her vision as a passer led her to tying the team-high assists totals, averaging 2.9 per contest. A true two-way player, Paterni’s 3.5 steals per game was tops for SMC.
Daeshia Turner, senior, Pittsburg
Davis: Though Muff deserves plenty of credit for Pittsburg’s success in girls basketball this season, Turner was a diamond in the rough for the Purple Dragons. Her development from her junior season to senior season was remarkable, developing a strong penetration game as well as showing the ability to connect on shots from 3-point range with consistency. Turner’s hard-nosed attitude may have been her best attribute, never shying away from a difficult defensive matchup, which was the lifeblood of the PHS team this season. Turner averaged 6.8 points per game and finished with 78 rebounds out of the guard spot. She finished with 35 steals and tied for a team-high in deflections with 51 on the defensive end.
Taylor Peterson, junior, Frontenac
Storey: Peterson filled up the stat sheet all season, averaging just over seven points per game and four rebounds, both good for second best on the team. She led the Raiders in steals, with an average of one per game, and in assists, with an average of two in each contest.
Bailee Ulery, senior, Southeast
Buckamneer: What could go wrong did go wrong in the three-win season for the Lancers, but the success they did have was largely because of Ulery. Despite the opposing team’s effort to contain her, Ulery still managed to finish second on her team in scoring points (104), rebounds (73) and steals (23). Ulery was also tied for first on the team in assists (20) and blocks (13).
MORNING SUN ALL-COUNTY COACH OF THE YEAR
Brad Herlocker, Girard
Davis: Herlocker’s Trojans came into the season with the highest of expectations, and his senior-laden team didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Girard finished with a program-best 24-1 record, a CNC League title for the second straight year and won the first ever team state title in school history.
“Our State run was a dream come true for our team and the entire town of Girard,” Herlocker said. “Winning coach of the year is a program award which celebrates all the accomplishments, teamwork and selflessness the kids showed to reach our final goal of winning it all. They will all be remember forever as that first group in school history to win a team state championship, which is a very satisfying feeling.”