There has never been a closer vote for The Advocate-Messenger Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year award.
But in the end, Nicole Coffman of Casey County edged out Lincoln County’s Emily Fox and Mercer County’s Savannah Taylor for the top honor on the Advocate’s All-Area Girls Basketball Team by a single point in voting by area coaches.
“Nicole is a perfect example of an outstanding athlete turning into an outstanding basketball player,” Casey coach Randy Salyers said. “Early in her middle school basketball playing days Nicole’s athletic ability carried her a long way. Then when she got in high school she really started to understand and work on her basketball skills.”
Coffman led the area in scoring at 21.7 points per game, pulled down 8.5 rebounds and handed out 3.1 assists per game
Fox, a sophomore guard, led Lincoln at 21 points per game to go with four rebounds and three assists. Taylor, a junior forward averaged 16 points and eight boards.
Joining them on the All-Area first team were Danville sophomore Kasey Young and Lincoln sophomore Sydney Harris. All five were first-team selections for the first time.
Making the second team were Essence Grey and Hannah Mountjoy of Danville, Garrard players Haley Meadows and Devin Conley, Boyle County’s Chelsea Gill and Shavon Majors of Burgin.
Danville coach Judie Mason, who led the Admirals’ to the All “A” Classic quarterfinals and helped tie a school record for wins with 20, was named the Advocate’s Area Coach of the Year.
Here’s a look at this year’s team:
Nicole Coffman, Casey County
Coffman was a second-team pick last year, but busted out after Megan Pittman was hurt this past summer. She did everything for the Rebels,
“This year Nicole has become the do-it-all player on the offensive and defensive end. With the injury to our leading scorer and rebounder from last year’s team, Megan Pittman, Nicole basically had to carry this year’s team on her back for most of the year.
“The first two years also she was used as a defensive stopper, she was athletic enough to guard every position on the court. We nicknamed her “The Glove” because she would basically cover the other team’s best shooting hand. Then the last two years Nicole had to shift gears. She had to go from playing inside offensively to becoming a primary ball handler.”
Coffman, who missed the final two games of the 12th Region Tournament after suffering a knee injury against Lincoln, also shot 45 percent from the floor and 74 percent from the free throw line (213 of 288).
Emily Fox, Lincoln County
The Patriots’ guard saw a lot of playing time as a freshman, which prepared her to take on the role as the Patriots’ leader this season.
“She did a great job this year of being a leader on the floor, and leading by example. She really had to grow up quick and she realized how heavily her team was going to rely on her to be a scorer for them. Her ability to hit big shots was proven more than once this year with at least 5 buzzer beaters from long range,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said.
Fox shot 78 percent from the free-throw line (108 for 138) and 48 percent from the floor.
“I thought Emily would have a good chance at being Player of the Year, with her stats alone speaking for themselves,” McWhorter said. “To be a sophomore and receive that many votes is an accomplishment in itself among such talent as Coffman and others. The future looks bright for Emily, and I look forward to having her for two more years.”
Savannah Taylor, Mercer County
The junior forward had a breakout year for the Titans, leading the team in scoring and rebounding while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 69 percent from the foul line.
“Savannah has made tremendous strides over the last several years and can still get better. Her point and rebound production from a year ago has more than doubled,” Mercer coach Chris Souder said. “The bottom line with her is that she wants to get better and is willing to put in the time and effort to get better.
“She wants to play college basketball and realizes the harder she works to improve her game, the higher level she can play at. Good days are ahead for Savannah. It is refreshing to see a kid improve and grow the way that Savannah has.”
Kasey Young, Danville
Young is one of the best outside shooters in the region and averaged 15.3 points per game and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line (102 for 127), tops in the area.
Kasey Young is one of the better shooters I have ever coached,” Danville coach Judie Mason said. “If she continues to work on her inside game and defense she could be a special player.
“She also averaged nearly 16 points a game along with six rebounds this season. She also scored her 1,000th career point in only her sophomore season.”
Sydney Harris, Lincoln County
The 6-foot sophomore forward averaged 13 points and six rebounds per game and became a solid inside force for the Patriots.
“Sydney is also a sophomore who had a lot of growing up to do this year,” McWhorter said. “She had some big games for us this year and has shown what she is capable of doing on the floor when she really puts her mind to it.
“Her height gives her an advantage inside to score, but her ability to step out and knock down 3s and penetrate makes her a tough match up for a lot of players.
“With little or no experience from last year, I am pleased with the play that Sydney gave to her team this year. I look forward to her improvement in areas over the summer and having the chance to have her around for two more years.
Essence Grey, Danville
The Admirals’ freshman point guard led the area in assists with 6.1 per game and averaged 11.6 points.
“Essence Grey probably improved as much as any player in the 12th Region this year,” Mason said. “She was called upon to be a leader and point guard of a very young squad and did an outstanding job considering she is only a freshman.
“Essence was also the first player to be named on the All ‘A’ state (all-)tournament team from Danville.”
Hannah Mountjoy, Danville
The senior forward provided veteran leadership forward for the young Admirals in addition to her scoring and rebounding.
“Hannah Mountjoy was the only senior starter on this year's team. She averaged 8.8 points and five rebounds a game,” Mason said.
“Hannah worked extremely hard over the last four years and plans to continue playing basketball at the next level. She can score inside and outside, which makes her a hard matchup for opponents.”
Haley Meadows, Garrard County
Meadows, the Golden Lions’ lone senior, is on the second team for the second straight season after averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds and having a team-high 70 assists. But she does more than just what the stats show, her coach said.
“We have asked her to do a lot this year with the leadership role and she has been asked to do more in the way of other statistical categories,” Garrard coach Scott Bolin said. “Haley has been able to succeed in all of those challenges.
“She has been around the program all her life. The opportunity for her to be a Lady Lion and contribute to the success of the program like she has will be something she will keep with her forever. She will truly be missed in a Garrard uniform.”
Devin Conley, Garrard County
The Garrard freshman proved a capable scorer at 11.1 points per game to go with 3.6 rebounds per game and 67 total assists, and Bolin said he loves how hard she works.
“Devin is a true gym rat. She loves to be in the gym and loves to get up shots whenever she can,” he said. “I think that her love for the game is second to no one.
“She is starting to get stronger and more physical as well. When everything finally clicks for her, it is going to be fun to watch. I believe the sky is the limit for this young lady.”
Chelsea Gill, Boyle County