Friday, March 16, 2012

NH Notebook End of Season Awards - Girls Basketball

The NHBCO awards won't be announced to the public until Sunday at the Granite Games at NHTI. But I'm releasing my picks tonight. I waited until AFTER the state tournament was complete before voting on these, that's the way it should be done. Without any further ado, here are the NH Notebook's All-State Team, Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Breakout Player of the Year for Divisions I, II and III plus our Miss NH Basketball Award for the 2011-2012 season.

The Breakout Player of the Year Award was given to one player in each division who I hyped up very little or not at all in the preseason but as the season went on they proved to be one of the top players in he division. As for the Miss NH Basketball award, that is for just one player in the entire state who was the most valuable player (any player regardless of their division or graduating year is eligible). I put the Miss NH Basketball award winner at the very end of the article to build suspense!

One other thing before I get to the selections - the awards in this article are NOT the same as the NHBCO's all-state teams. The awards in this article were voted on by one person (me) and not the coaches. The way the teams are formatted is different on here compared to the way the NHBCO does it. And I made all of these picks at the end of the state tournament and took into consideration regular season and postseason performance, whereas the NHBCO's all-state teams are voted on before the tournament starts and only takes into account regular season performance. So by posting these I am NOT "scooping" the NHBCO. If I was doing that I would have posted THEIR picks, but instead these are MY selections and it's a completely different all-state team.

With that being said, here are the end of season awards, as chosen by the NH Notebook.

Division I

All-State Team
Meghan Green, Jr., Bishop Guertin HS
Kirsten O'Neil, Sr., Winnacunnet HS
Amra Elezovic, Sr. Manchester Memorial
Aliza Simpson, So., Londonderry HS
Allie Mahan, Sr., Dover HS

No real surprises here. The first four players are no-brainers, and I'll be shocked if all four of them don't make the NHBCO's first-team. Green, O'Neil, Elezovic and Simpson all had great years and each of them were the best player on a team that made the final four. Mahan gets the nod for the fifth spot on the team over Ashley Clough (Keene) and Jamie Sherburne (Bishop Guertin). Mahan was an extremely valuable player for a very tough Dover squad. She ran the offense, set her teammates up for looks, scored when she had to and didn't turn the ball over. And she was also as good of a defender as there was in the state.

Player of the Year
Meghan Green, Bishop Guertin

Tough call here, but Green gets the nod over O'Neil and Elezovic. She was the best player on the best team in the state. Green was a double-double machine and is the player that opposing teams have to game plan around trying to stop. She is only a junior, and next year BG will be the favorites to repeat as champs and Green will be the favorite to be Player of the Year again. Watch out, next season Green and Sherburne will be like the NHIAA's Shaq and Kobe.

Coach of the Year
Ricky Oliver, Nashua North

You have to give Ricky some credit. Year in and year out his Titans are a tough out for anybody. He has his girls play tough, smart team basketball. They push the tempo, they take good shots, limit their turnovers and they are always well prepared. I picked them 12th in the preseason and they finished 6th. Coach Oliver only had 3 girls returning who were regular rotation players last year, yet they went 13-7 and gave eventual runner-up Londonderry all they could handle in the quarterfinals.

Breakout Player of the Year
Katie Boyatsis, Fr., Dover HS

During the preseason was hyping up Peace Kabari (Manchester Memorial), Megan Kerutis (Bishop Guertin), Casey Evans-Driscoll (Londonderry), Val Martin (Pinkerton) and Taylor Choate (Nashua North) as the top freshman players in Division I. And while these girls all had tremendous seasons and were impact players on their respective varsity teams I clearly did not give enough respect to Boyatsis in the preseason. Boyatsis quietly put together a freshman season that was just as good if not better than any of the girls I just mentioned. She started all year long for a VERY good Dover team and in many games she was their leading scorer.

Division II

All-State Team
Jane White, Sr., Souhegan HS
Katie Stopera, Sr., Hollis-Brookline HS
Moriah Morton, Jr., Lebanon HS
Kerry White, Sr., Windham HS
Meredith Grady, Sr., Coe-Brown Northwood Academy

The first 3 picks are no-brainers. White, Stopera and Morton were hands down the 3 best players in this division. Hollis-Brookline got upset in the quarterfinals, but it wasn't Stopera's fault as she had a game-high 24 points. Stopera also had 36 in another game late in the year, and ended the season with over 1,000 points. Morton is a gifted scorer but is also the best defensive player in D-II for a Lebanon team that only lost 2 games all year. The other 2 spots were tough to pick, but you cannot go wrong going with White and Grady - both seniors who had very strong seasons on VERY good teams. White led Windham to the Final Four, while Grady was the best player on a Coe-Brown team that went 16-4 including regular season wins over Souhegan, Windham and Lebanon. Morton is the only one listed who is not a senior. With her and Trina Scheie coming back next year from the torn ACL Lebanon will have the 2 best players in the division.

Player of the Year
Jane White, Souhegan

Easy choice here. If White doesn't get the NHBCO's POY award then something has gone terribly wrong. For more on White skip down to the Miss NH Basketball award winner at the bottom. Well, so much for the suspense!

Coach of the Year
Rob Bennett, Kearsarge Regional HS

Picked to finish 8th in the preseason, Coach Bennett got his team to believe and that belief got them all the way to the championship game. They went on the road in the quarterfinals and beat a very good Coe-Brown team and then in the semis they beat a Windham team that was definitely favored to win that game despite being the lower seed.

Breakout Player of the Year
Rebekka Donovan, Jr., Merrimack Valley HS

If MV was going to be a contender someone would have to step up as the go-to player with the graduation of Megan Hardiman. That player was Donovan, who had a breakout year this season as a junior, leading the Pride to a 15-3 record. In their quarterfinal loss to Souhegan, Donovan went up against the Saber's twin towers Ceara McNamara and Tori Forrest and still scored 16 points to go with 20 rebounds. Next year Merrimack Valley returns a strong nucleus with not only Donovan but also Jordan Filion and the Mullen sisters Molly and Mary - they could easily be the second best team in D-II next year after Lebanon.

Division III

First Team
Rebecca Arnone, Sr, Campbell HS
Lindsey Nerbonne, Jr., Bow HS
Bryanna Bennett, Sr. White Mountains HS
Jordan Phinney, Sr., Newfound HS
Jess Zabielski, Sr., Fall Mountain HS

No surprises here, as this team is virtually identical to the all-state team had picked in the preseason. I believe I also had Liz Pettis (Campbell) included in the preseason, and if there was a 6th player on my all-state team it would be her. But Arnone, Nerbonne, Bennett, Phinney and Zabielski all had outstanding seasons and were the best players on each of the top 5 teams in D-III. The only one who isn't a senior on this team is Nerbonne, so definitely watch out for her and Bow next season.

Player of the Year
Rebecca Arnone

Arnone may have had a tough go of it in the title game but a couple of the fouls they called on her were not her fault. Plus you cannot discount what she did for Campbell all throughout the season, carrying the Cougars to their 5th consecutive appearance in the finals. Arnone also became just the second player in state history to record over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.

Coach of the Year
Gary Jenness

This one was another easy choice. Going into the season the Campbell and Bow were hands down the 2 favorites in D-III. I thought that Fall Mountain, White Mountains and Newfound would all be good teams but I felt each of them were a notch down from Bow and Campbell. Well, Coach Jenness proved me wrong as his Spartans team beat BOTH Bow and Campbell en route to the championship. White Mountains was clearly a very smart, well-coached basketball team, and Coach Jenness deserves a lot of credit.

Breakout Player of the Year
Amber Plummer, Newfound Regional HS

Plummer was a relatively unknown player going into the season, but as the season went on she just kept on getting better and better. By the end of the season she combined with Phinney to form 1-2 punch that was as good as any in D-III. Plummer is very athletic and is so quick off the dribble that you have to play zone against her because otherwise she'll just blow by her defender and get to the rim.

Division IV
Congrats to the Littleton High girls for winning the 2012 D-IV title! Sorry for no all-state picks, but I hope to get to enough D-IV games to make my picks next year.

Miss NH Basketball
Jane White, Souhegan

White was not only the best player in the state during the 2011-2012 season but she was also the player who was the most valuable to her team. Souhegan relied on her so much to handle the basketball, score the basketball, run their offense and also be the point of attack on defense. White was a great player but also a great leader and teammate as well. In the title game vs. Kearsarge when her shot wasn't falling she kept her head up, kept playing hard and found other ways to help her team. The future Bentley college guard had a HUGE game in the Saber's semi-final win over Lebanon. It is safe to say that the Raiders and the rest of D-II are glad that she's graduating.

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