Monday, March 31, 2014

Taylor Rooks of Gill St. Bernard's is The Star-Ledger girls basketball Player of the Year, 2013-2014




Chris Ryan, nj.com, March 30, 2014

Entering her senior season, Taylor Rooks knew that several personal milestones were on the horizon. But instead of worrying about when or how she would reach them, the Gill St. Bernard’s forward just set her mind to helping her team.
If she set her mind to the team’s success, everything else would work out. She just wanted to enjoy the ride.
"The milestones are very cool, not a lot of people get to experience those. But I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily in the front of my mind,” Rooks said. "I’m just focused on winning a game. But when I did get something, I could sit back and say this something that I’m very fortunate to be able to do.”
With the team’s success, the personal milestones followed. Rooks reached 2,000 career points in December before breaking the Gill St. Bernard’s scoring record on Feb. 26th. She also reached 1,000 career rebounds on Jan. 25.
Rooks again proved to be an invaluable asset for the Somerset County school, as the Stanford-bound senior posted a staggering statical season, backing up the performance that earned her  State Player of the year honors as a junior in 2012-13.
Rooks averaged 23.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 blocks and 2.8 steals per game, as she helped Gill St. Bernard’s win the Somerset County Tournament and reach the final of the South Jersey, Non-Public B tournament.
For her career, Rooks finished with 2,600 points and 1,193 rebounds. But her impact on Gill St. Bernard’s goes far beyond the stats on the court.
From day one, Rooks served as mentor to the rest of the team, helping build chemistry for the long season ahead.
“We had a lot of new players, and some of these are girls playing March basketball for the first time, and it can be a little intimidating playing with a kid of that caliber, but Taylor did a great job on and off the court,” Gill St. Bernard’s coach Josuf Dema said. "It goes back to the fall when they started their training. She built confidence in them, whether it be making the extra pass or just talking to them on the side."
That mentoring helped in the final of the Somerset County Tournament, when Rooks fouled out with 45 second left in the game. The game went to overtime, and Rooks’ teammates were able to finish off a  55-51 victory against Franklin.
While she had to watch and encourage her team from the bench at the end of the game, the victory serves as one of her favorite memories from this season and her high school career.
“Our team stepped up,” Rooks said. "It was probably my favorite game out of four years of high school, and probably the moment that stood out to me the most.”
Rooks still finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the final, one of 21 double-doubles she recorded this season.
While Rooks compiled strong numbers in different categories throughout the season, her mentality never changed from game to game. Rooks wanted to be the team player and leader that set Gill St. Bernard's up for success.
"It comes naturally to her. There was never a game where she was either just shooting or just passing, she would usually make the right decision,” Dema said. "She did that consistently throughout the year, which is always great to see."
With her ability to control the paint and shoot, it could be easy for Rooks to try and rack up the points every night. But she knew that success goes far beyond the scoring column.
"A lot of people, the first thing they’ll look at is points. It’s all the other stuff that dictates whether or not you’re going to do well,” Rooks said. “My goal is not to say, 'I want to get 10 rebounds.’ I don’t think about that, I just want to do what I have to to win.”


Friday, March 28, 2014

McPhee Voted AP Washington Player of Year



king5.com, March 27, 2014

Mount Rainier star Brittany McPhee has repeated as The Associated Press Washington girls' state player of the year.

McPhee was honored on Thursday after voting by sports writers and editors from around the state. She was also honored as the player of the year in her respective classification.

The Stanford-bound McPhee led Mount Rainier to the state championship game in Class 4A after a season during which she averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds per game. Her 2,815 career points are believed to be a state record.


McPhee is a three-time honoree as the Class 4A player of the year, earning the award as the top player in her classification since she was a sophomore. She'll head off to Stanford as one of the most decorated girls high school players in state history.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Taylor Rooks of Gill St. Bernard's named Courier News Girls Basketball Player of the Year



Simeon Pincus, mycentraljersey.com, March 24, 2014

Taylor Rooks is certainly ready for the next level. And while the Gill St. Bernard’s High School superstar is looking forward beginning her collegiate career at Stanford University next season, first there was the matter of her senior varsity season to attend to, and, for the second straight season, nobody did it better.

Since joining the Knights as sophomore, after her family moved back to Central Jersey from Western New York State, the Princeton-born star and, now, two-time Courier News Girls Basketball Player of the Year, has made her presence felt, leading Gill St. Bernard’s to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final two years ago, and back to the sectional final last season.

This year, Rooks capped her varsity career with another highly successful campaign, as the Knights finished 26-4, winning their third consecutive Somerset County Tournament championship, sharing the Skyland Conference Delaware Division crown with Franklin, and returning to the Non-Public B South sectional final.

And while her attention will soon be turning 3,000 miles west, Rooks not only finished the year averaging 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but having a great time doing it.

“This year was definitely the most fun year,” said Rooks, who has referred to this year’s edition of the Knights as her favorite team she’s ever played on. “I really enjoyed playing with my teammates, and my coaches. It really made it special and fun. I feel really connected to all the players this year, especially. It just makes every practice, every game and off the court in school so much more fun, because they’re your best friends. This year was just so much fun. It was great.”

And although players of Rooks status can sometimes not only be intimidating to opponents, but even their teammates, that was never the case with Rooks, who has had no trouble fitting in. And while she often goes about her business on the court in a predominantly quiet and almost effortless sort of way, her presence is never absent, her play always unselfish and her leadership invaluable.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Natrona's Johnsons earn all-state honors



Natrona County senior Kaylee Johnson puts up a shot over Kelly Walsh player as Kelly Walsh faced Natrona County in the annual Peach Basket Classic on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym in Casper, Wyo. Natrona County won 69-41. 

trib.com, March 20, 2014


Natrona County senior Kaylee Johnson was named to the Wyoming Coaches Association Class 4A girls all-state team for the third consecutive year Thursday.
Johnson, the three-time Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year, led the Fillies (23-4) to a 33-28 victory over Cheyenne East in Saturday's championship game.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Natrona's Johnson caps illustrious career with elusive team title



Cheyenne East's player struggles to shoot over Natrona County's Kaylee Johnson as Natrona County faced Cheyenne East on Saturday, March 15, 2014, during the Class 4A Wyoming State High School Girls Basketball Championship at the Casper Events Center. Natrona County defeated Cheyenne East 33-28 to take the Class 4A state title. 

Sisco Molina, trib.com, March 16, 2014


Kaylee Johnson has a room full of individual awards, but the only thing on her mind was a state championship. She saw her Natrona County teammates win one in volleyball in October, and she wanted one of her own.
"I would give up all the individual awards just for this one," said Johnson. "I thought I'd be emotional, but honestly with this team and its confidence, we expected this. We all knew we were going to go strong until the end and ultimately win the prize."
The Fillies defeated Cheyenne East 33-28 on Saturday in the final of the Class 4A Wyoming State High School Girls Basketball Championship.
Johnson finished with just five points in the game, but pulled down 18 rebounds in the victory. It wasn't the best game of her career, but she helped the Fillies capture their first state championship since 2000 and won the award that's both eluded her and meant the most to her.
"We all played strong, and we did it for each other," said Johnson. "None of us played for ourselves. We won for each other.
"We knew it was going to be a battle from the beginning and that it would take all 32 minutes."
Johnson, who will continue her career at Stanford, will take a short break before beginning her next basketball challenge.
"I guess all I can do is prep for college," Johnson said. "I'll get summer workouts going and get ready for the next chapter of my life. I'm excited. I'll be sad to leave these girls, this program and this coach, but I'll support them no matter what, and I know they'll be supporting me, too."




Brittany McPhee makes Parade All-America team



Sandy Ringer, seattletimes.com, March 14, 2014

The honors keep piling up for Mount Rainier senior Brittany McPhee.
And they keep getting bigger, too.
One day after being named the Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the third year in a row, news comes that McPhee is on the exclusive Parade All-America team.
Only 20 seniors from across the country made the team. McPhee, a 6-foot forward who has signed with Stanford, is the lone Washington player on the list. 
A big round of applause to one of Washington’s all-time best players — congratulations, Brittany!

WYOMING GIRLS BASKETBALL POY: KAYLEE JOHNSON





Natrona County (Wyo.) senior Kaylee Johnson is the Gatorade Wyoming Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

usatodayhss.com, March 14, 2014

HE WINNER: Kaylee Johnson
THE BASICS
School: Natrona County (Casper, Wyo.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Guard/forward
Height: 6-foot-2
Athletic achievement: She led the Fillies to an 18-4 record and a berth in the Class 4A state tournament, scheduled to begin March 13. Johnson averaged 16.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 4.3 blocks while shooting 56 percent from the floor through 22 games. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 Gatorade Wyoming Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Johnson led all of Class A in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocked shots.
Academic excellence: Johnson has maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Exemplary character: A member of the National Honor Society, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Salvation Army and Kids Against Hunger in addition to assisting the elderly at an area retirement home.
THE PRAISE
“Kaylee Johnson is a very selfless teammate,” said Natrona County head coachDouglas Diehl. “She is also very coachable and an extremely competitive kid. She just keeps developing her game, as she demonstrated this year by leading the state in assists.”
THE FUTURE: Johnson has signed with Stanford.

Brittany McPhee earns 3rd Gatorade Player of the Year award




Sandy Ringer, seattletimes.com, March 14, 2014


For the third year in a row, Brittany McPhee of Mount Rainier has been chosen the Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

McPhee, a senior who has signed with Stanford, continutes to add to her cache of awards. She is a three-time Star Times selection and was voted to the all-state team as a sophomore and junior (this year’s all-state team has yet to be announced).
She was the repeat MVP of the 4A state tournament last week after leading the Rams to the championship game, where they lost to Gonzaga Prep. Mount Rainier placed third in both 2013 and 2012.
Complete press release.

MT. RAINIER HIGH SCHOOL HIGH SCHOOL STANDOUT NAMED GATORADE® WASHINGTON GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CHICAGO (March 13, 2014) — In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Brittany McPhee of Mt. Rainier High School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year. McPhee is the first Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Mt. Rainier High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes McPhee as Washington’s best high school girls basketball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award announced in March, McPhee joins an elite alumni association of past state girls basketball award- winners, including Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Diana Taurasi (1998-99 & 1999-00, Don Antonio Lugo HS, Calif.), Maya Moore (2005-06 Collins Hill HS, Ga.), Rashanda McCants (2004-05, Asheville HS, N.C.), Shyra Ely (1999-00, Ben Davis HS, Ind.) and Lisa Leslie (1988-89, Morningside HS, Calif.)
The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, McPhee averaged 27.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 2.8 blocks and 2.3 assists per game this past season, leading the Rams (25-4) to the Class 4A state championship game. Also the returning Player of the Year as named by The News Tribune and Associated Press, the 6- foot senior wing shot 52.3 percent from the field and 79.7 percent from the free throw line. In three Class 4A state tournament games, McPhee averaged 24.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocks, capturing Most Valuable Player honors for the second consecutive season.
McPhee has maintained a 4.00 GPA in the classroom. In addition to serving as a student ambassador at the Inter-high leadership conference, she has donated her time as a youth basketball and soccer instructor.
“She improved at every aspect of the game even though she was already the best player in the state,” said Keith Wasberg, head coach of rival Tahoma High. “Her intelligence impresses me most. It’s beyond a basketball IQ. My defensive strategy was to trap her and leave perimeter players open, every time, because the only chance against her is that she doesn’t make mistakes. This year, she became smarter.”
McPhee has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at Stanford University this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Three time winner McPhee joins Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Players of the Year Erika Johnson (2010-11, Holy Names Academy), Mercedes Wetmore (2009-10, Auburn Riverside), Lindsey Moore (2008-09, Kentwood), Ashley Corral (2007-08, Prairie), and Angie Bjorklund (2006–07, University) among the state’s list of former award winners.


NEW JERSEY GIRLS BASKETBALL POY: TAYLOR ROOKS



usatodayhss.com, March 13, 2014


Gill St. Bernard’s School (Gladstone, N.J.) senior Taylor Rooks is the Gatorade New Jersey Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

HE WINNER: Taylor Rooks
THE BASICS
School: Gill St. Bernard’s School (Gladstone, N.J.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Guard
Height: 6-foot
Athletic achievement: She led the Knights to a 26-4 record and the North Jersey Non-Public B title game this past season. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Rooks averaged 23.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.8 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game. An Honorable Mention All-American as named by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, she is a two-time First Team All-State honoree and is rated as the nation’s No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.
Academic excellence: Rooks has maintained a 4.20 GPA.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered on behalf of a local food bank and Melina’s White Light, a foundation that supports childhood cancer research.  
THE PRAISE
“She’s a very athletic scorer who can shoot the 3-pointer or slash to the basket,” saidMary Coyle Klinger, head coach at Rutgers Prep. “She’s extremely quick and she does whatever it takes to win.”  
THE FUTURE: Rooks has signed with Stanford.


NC's Johnson receives third consecutive player of the year honor



Natrona County's Kaylee Johnson grabs a rebound away from Cheyenne Central in a quarterfinal game of the Class 4A Wyoming State High School Girls Basketball Championship on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Casper College. 

Jeff Kirschman, trib.com, March 13, 2014


As if Kaylee Johnson and the No. 1-seeded Natrona County girls basketball team wasn’t formidable enough, the Stanford-bound Johnson received her third straight Gatorade Wyoming Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor on Thursday for an encouraging start to the Class 4A Girls Wyoming State High School Championship.
Johnson averaged a 4A best-best 16.7 points in 22 game for the Fillies (18-4, 10-0 4A West) and also led the conference in rebounding (14.3), assists (5.1) and blocks (4.3), shooting 56 percent from the field in the process.
Natrona County defeated Cheyenne Central 68-22 on Thursday behind Johnson's game-high 26 points and 19 rebounds to begin its journey toward the programs first championship since 2000. 
"It’s awesome. It’s really cool that I got it," Johnson said. "I’m happy I won, but that’s not my biggest concern this weekend, obviously."
Her 4.0 grade-point average and membership in the Natrona Honor Society also contributed to her receiving the award.