Brooke Allen maxes out the votes for Player of the Year

J. Patrick Eaken

Woodmore 6-foot-1 senior post Brooke Allen and Eastwood 5-8 junior guard Aubrey Haas are unanimous Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Girls Basketball first team selections.

In voting by nine area coaches and seven media members, it is Allen who is the unanimous Player of the Year, and her coach Kyle Clair, who is a near-unanimous Coach of the Year.

Woodmore went 23-3 overall and at 12-2 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, shared the title with Division III district finalist Elmwood (20-4, 12-2) and the ‘Cats reached the D-IV district finals.

Allen averaged a double-double 21.8 points and 11.8 rebounds, plus 1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks and she shot 52 percent from the field.

“All facets of her game are really on the upswing right now. Her back to the basket game has been strong going left to right and she’s gotten stronger in the offseason after spending some time in the weight room and her footwork has drastically improved,” Clair told The Press. 

“That has helped her a lot and she’s finishing well around the rim. Her outside game has been tremendous. She is close to 40 percent shooting from three, so she’s shooting really well.”

Not only that, but Allen helped make history at Woodmore. This year, she reached the 1,000-point career scoring mark early in the season, then became Woodmore’s all-time leading girls basketball scorer (1,442) and rebounder (871), and she also helped Clair reach 169 career victories. Her 564 points this season is a single season record.

Plus, she is one part of an important tandem at Woodmore. Her twin brother, Hunter, a 6-foot-4 forward, was the boys leading scorer and a first team All-NBC selection.

Allen is just one of several NBC players who have been reaching milestones all season long. Haas and Lake 5-11 senior forward Hayley St. John also reached the 1,000-point career plateau. Haas averaged 19.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and four steals. She was Eastwood’s answer to the graduation of Jamie Schmeltz, now playing at Walsh University, and led the Eagles to an 18-6 season (10-4 NBC) and D-III district tournament appearance.

“Aubrey has been a workhorse for us,” Eastwood coach Nick Schmeltz told The Press. “We’ve asked her to pick up the scoring slack from Jamie’s departure. Aubrey averaged 15 points a game last year as a sophomore, but right now she’s averaging (close to) 20 as a junior. Teams know that she is our leading scorer, and they are trying to take her away. She does a good job in scoring in a multitude of ways. She can get to the rim, she is a free throw shooter and she can knock down a three if we really need her to. So, she’s played really well for us.”


St. John 'is locked in’

St. John, a standout soccer player, has chosen to play NAIA basketball at Lourdes University.

“Basketball is my favorite — I started playing up when I was 5 years old and I’ve gained a love for basketball,” St. John said.

St. John averaged 14 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.1 assists in leading Lake to a 12-9 season 9-4 NBC). 

“Hayley will be the first four-year letter winner that I’ve had at Lake, and this is my sixth year, and she’s played with some pretty good players that are older than her and she’s played with some pretty good players that are younger than her. I think there are a lot of things that stand out about Hayley. She is always eager to get better, she is always committed to getting in during the offseason, listening and taking stuff that we work on and applying it to her game,” Lake coach Joe Nowak said.

“Another great thing about Hayley is just her commitment to the team and she’s just a great teammate. She gets along with her teammates. She’s there for them, she’ll talk to them, and one of the things I’ve been really impressed with is her overall growth and maturity even from last year to this year. There are times where I’m getting on them about something or even her specifically and she is not slouched over or anything like that and looking away,” Nowak continued.

“She is locked in, she is eye to eye, she is nodding along and taking what you are telling her, and then she goes up there and she uses it. Her overall growth as a person and her maturity level thing, too, has been something that has been noticeable. I definitely think it is something that has helped her.”

St. John is joined on the All-Press first team by teammate Delani Robinson, a 5-10 junior guard who averaged 15.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals and two assists. She can shoot, drive, handle the ball, and has size, and will likely be recruited to play collegiately. 

“Delani Robinson really came on strong in the second half of the season last year and she started out well for us this year,” Nowak said.

Genoa 5-10 senior guard Caitlin Cruickshank rounds out the first team after averaging 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals. The Comets finished 9-12 overall and 5-7 in the NBC.

Cruickshank scored 26 points, including 6-for-10 from the three-point arc, with seven rebounds in a 48-26 win over Northwood, had 23 points (3-for-6 from behind the arc) with five rebounds in a loss to Woodmore, 23 points (3-for-7 from behind the arc, including 10-for-13 from the free throw line) in a win over Fostoria, 19 points (4-for-7 from three) in a losing effort to Elmwood, and 18 points (7-for-17 FG) with 10 rebounds in a win over Otsego. 

“Caitlin is an amazing player, she is coachable and understands her role as a shooting guard,” Genoa coach Laura Pierson said. “This season she has grown from her previous season. She has evolved her game from not only shooting the spot-up three but also the mid-range jumper and a dribble attack for her team and posting up on the block.  

“Caitlin is by far a very unselfish player. As teams began to faceguard her and use junk defenses she distributes the ball to her teammates for the best shot selection.  She also has a high basketball IQ and has been willing to do anything we have asked of her and is willing to analyze her game through film,” Pierson continued. “Caitlin has been our most consistent offensive player this season however recently has really stepped up defensively and as a rebounder. “

(Photos of first team players by Russ Lytle /; Innovations Portrait Studio/; and LifeTouch)

The NBC was so good this year, that out of 15 first, second and third team picks, 10 are from the NBC. The NBC accounts for only four of 10 girls basketball teams, but Oak Harbor got three second team choices and Cardinal Stritch and Clay have a freshman and sophomore make third team, which bodes well for their future.

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