2014 KHQA GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Palmyra High School
18.2 Points Per Game,
87 Three Pointers on 42% Efficiency from Distance
3.7 Steals Per Game
3 Rebounds Per Game
2.3 Assists Per Game
Clarence Cannon Conference Player of the Year
First Team All State Selection By the MBCA
RATIONALE: A very interesting process that was nearly turned on its ear by a grassroots swell of support from our viewers for Keokuk Junior Guard Lakyn Boltz, who jumped from sixth to a tie for second on our final ballot with Kristen Gengenbacher. In house, we had essentially narrowed the field here to three finalists in Hinkle, Gengenbacher, and Abby Lashmett of West Central. (Truth be told, if their teams had experienced more success, we probably could have talked ourselves into Cassidy Johnston and Vanessa Markert in this conversation as well.) With three legitimate All Staters in the final mix, it became an exercise in trying to assess quantitative value relative to their given teams. Lashmett's primary value here came from the fact that she accounted for a whopping 35% of her teams total offense this season. In contrast, Hinkle produced 29% of the Lady Panthers points this season and Gengenbacher was good for right about 23%. But even with Abby playing incredibly consistent anchor in the middle, West Central as a team was much more inconsistent overall relative to Palmyra and QND (against lesser competition and without as much bottom line success) which undercut Abby's value relative to the other two players. And so we had our final two.
The evidence for Kristen Gengenbacher was compelling. Statistically, Kristen's numbers were a little deflated, given the caliber of teammates she had and her unselfish nature in a distribution heavy QND Offense. By the same token, she was still a flat out rainmaker who averaged nearly 16 points, 3.5 assists and better than five rebounds per game (a number that I found very compelling for a guard) on a team that went all the way to the State Semifinals against the hardest slate of competition in the Tri States. Those kind of things matter. There just weren't many holes to poke in her game. She was the unquestioned engine that drove the train and I always thought Kristen was a kid who had the rare ability to play her best game in the most tense of circumstances. A little more fan support in the online polling may well have strengthened an alreadly strong candidacy as well.
But I am not sure, relative to her chief rival here, it stil would have been enough.
Simply put, Palmyra's Senior Guard was the most proficient and efficient player on the floor in more games, more times than anyone else in Tri State Girls Basketball this season. And that had irreplacable impact on her team.
Like Miss Lashmett, Katee Hinkle averaged right at 18.2 points per game but did so as a two guard. What won me over is that her efficiency percentages were staggeringly good for a player who shot a staggering 207 attempts from three point range. She finished the year as a 46% shooter from the field overall and hit on a remarkable 42% of her three point attempts. Those numbers make her that almost perfect statistical approxiamation, as irony would have it, of one Kassidy Gengenbacher. You may remember Kass as Kristen's big sister and a kid who would have been the runaway KHQA Player of the Year in 2013 for the numbers she produced and the amount of team success she helped engender had she not shared floor space with a once in a generation player in Jordan Frericks. Katee Hinkle's shine this season came without such mitigation, which made it easier to see all the little things she did to get better and uplift her teammates. Katee expanded her game beyond mere catch and shoot at the offensive end and showed off the ability to not only score her points within the flow of the offense, but move the basketball to teammates for higher percentage shots. And in so doing turned the ball over a miniscule 1.3 times per game on average. Miss Hinkle also became one of the most intuitive passing lane defenders in the Tri States in route to 110 steals on the year. Her fingerprints were all over the Lady Panthers stellar 27-3 season; a campaign that finished in the State Quarterfinals. And she did so on a team that basically gave up size in the paint on a nightly basis. Palmyra had to be successful on the perimeter to create openings inside for their undersized forwards, or none of this was ever going to work. And in the face of that pressure, Hinkle delivered big time results. Certainly doesn't hurt that she is a tremendously high character kid with stellar grades (as were Kristen Gengenbacher and Abby Lashmett I might add) to boot.
Not sure that we could have gone wrong in this case with any of the Big Three here, but I feel convicted that ultimately we did get this one right.
Runners-Up: Lakyn Boltz, Keokuk
Kristen Gengenbacher, QND
Fan Vote Winner: Lakyn Boltz, Keokuk
2013-Jordan Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame
2012-Jordan Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame
2011-Tiffany King, West Central
2010-Karlee Gengenbacher, Quincy Notre Dame
2009-Tori Niemann, Canton
2008-Marley Hall, West Hancock
2007-McKensey Long, Carthage
2006-Mikal Bencomo, Clopton
2005-Sara Liesen, Quincy Notre Dame
2004-Lexanne Dickerson, Carthage
2003-Jennifer Goetz, Cardinal Stritch
2002-Sam Quigle, Southeastern
2001-Jennifer Goetz, Cardinal Stritch
2000-Dewella Holliday, Monroe City
1999-Dewella Holliday, Monroe City
1998-Ruth Kipping, Quincy High