DGB.com 2011 Year End Awards!
Sponsored by Bernie's Water Ice
Player of the Year: Betnijah Laney (Smyrna High School)
CYM Player of the Year: Claire Igo (St. John the Beloved)
Coach of the Year: Marcus Thompson (Sanford School)
CYM Coach of the Year: Dan DiFrancesco (St. Anthony of Padua)
Greatest Individual Accomplishment of the Year: Betnijah Laney joining the 2,000 point club. 2,140 career points total. Third place, all-time.
Most Inspirational Player: Regan Robertson (St. Elizabeth’s CYM)
Most Inspirational Moment: The Final Four Pre-game Meeting of Cape Henlopen and Ursuline Players
Biggest Disappointment of the Year: That Alison Zimny (St. Mark’s) was overlooked for the Blue-Gold Game
Hardest Working High School Player: Laura Hurff (Ursuline Freshman)
Hardest Working Grade School Player: Carly Truitt (St. Anthony of Padua)
Coolest Player Name: Kodi Raymond (Ursuline 8th Grader ) / Taylor Tillery (Caravel Freshman)
Best Dancer to Game Warm-Up Music: Simone Veale (St. Ann’s)
Best Student Cheering Section: Archmere boys cheering on the girls at Padua.
It should be obvious that some of these "awards" are done, if not tongue-in-cheek, then in something of a lighthearted spirit. All of the trophy awards (the four at the top of the page) are very much in earnest and we take them most seriously. The rest have varying degrees of gravity to them. We leave it to you to decipher the difference.
High School Player of the Year
Hard to argue Laney’s achievements. In her career, she became the 4th player to break the 2,000 point barrier and the 1st 4-year player to do so. She also set the all-time single game scoring record (52 points) a year or two ago. And what a senior year she has had! 541 points scored. 23.5 points per game. Six 30+ point games. She’s a hall of famer no matter how you cut it.
CYM Player of the Year
Click here for Claire Igo’s story.
Coach of the Year
Usually, the first thing we look for are surprise teams. Overachievers. A coach who did the most with the least. But sometimes, achievement itself demands to be noticed. This year, we went with Sanford’s Marcus Thompson. Winning a State Championship isn’t easy. Doing it two years in a row is even harder. In the late 90s, as we were transitioning into the 2000s, the girls team at Sanford had fallen on hard times. I recall a game at St. Mark’s that the Warriors were on the wrong end of a 77 – 10 score (or something very close to that). In came Sheila DiNardo. The program began to show signs of life. People began respecting the team again. They became competitive. Then, DiNardo moved to Ursuline. In came Coach Thompson. He continued the improvement process big time. Within a very few years, top talent in the area wanted to play there. The best coaches are always magnets for talent. So, we honor Marcus Thompson certainly for the two championships, but also for developing a program second to none in the First State.
CYM Coach of the Year
St. Anthony’s won the CYM Championship this year. They were a Number 1 seed from the regular season as well, only taking one loss along the way. When the team started out in November, there were no obvious superstars. Just a couple of known quantities and a lot of question marks. Dan DiFrancesco, who had won a CYM Title with St. Anthony’s in 2005, took over the team this fall after having spent the previous 2 seasons coaching Ursuline Academy’s high school JV team. Things came together. Star, “name players” began to emerge – all in the course of a single season. By the time the Tigers were hoisting up their league trophy, everyone on the circuit knew Ayanna Thompson, Alex Thomas, Camille Simendinger, Karly Panella, and Lauren Kennedy. It was a heck of a transformation. Our first criteria when naming our Coaches of the Year (high school & CYM) is always: Who did the most with the least? In this case, Dan DiFrancesco took what was a good team and helped make them excellent.
Think of all the girls who have EVER played high school ball in Delaware. Only FOUR have scored 2,000 or more points. It’s hard to do. You have to average 500 points a year for 4 years to do it. In fact, Laney’s scoring rate the last 2 years is a little less than in her first 2 years. This has much to do with the addition to the Smyrna roster of 6’ 4” Crystal Ross, who has helped share the scoring load.
Regan Robertson plays on St. E’s CYM Y2 team. A good player, blessed with height and a fair amount of ability. What is inspirational about her is that she only has one hand. This doesn’t seem to bother Regan nor impede what she wants to do on the court. In the Y2 Championship Game, she had at least 5 points, and, if memory serves, she started the game and got big minutes. We saw her with a Padua tote bag and assume she will attend that school next fall. Will she go out for basketball? We hope so.
The Most Inspirational Team Moment was a no-brainer. After the Elite Eight round of the State Tournament, it looked like girls ball was headed in a not-so-cool direction. Prior to the start of the Semi-Final between Cape and UA, several team leaders from Cape approached the UA bench with get well baloons, cards and flowers for Adrianna Hahn and Audra Cranston. For many, including the Hahn and Cranston families, they were not only moved by the sentiment of what Cape did, they also felt a renewal of spirit for all that is good about the sport.
St. Mark’s has 3 seniors this year. None were selected to the Blue/Gold Game. Alison Zimny, an overall better player than at least a third of the names on the Blue/Gold rosters, deserved a spot. A huge oversight on the part of the coaches who neglected to vote for her.
We already ran a big story about Laura Hurff, so you can look at that for your explanation regarding her. As for Carly Truitt, she’s something else. All hustle and determination. This is a girl who cries when a sub comes in for her! That’s how much she wants to play. Her main calling card is defense, but she can hit the occasional mid-range jumper too.
Coolest Names & Best Dancer
More or less self-explanatory.
Best Student Cheering Section
At the Archmere/Padua State Tournament First Round Game, a bunch of Archmere boys sat together to cheer on the Lady Auks. They were vocal, energetic, and funny, but never obnoxious or unsportsmanlike. It was hard not to get caught up in their vibe. We need more student cheering sections like these guys.
Huge Thanks to Bernie's Water Ice at 8th & DuPont Streets in Wilmington for sponsoring the four trophies given out to the two players and two coaches of the year. Bernie's has measurably helped our year end awards become more real and, in the process, helped DGB.com enhance its legitimacy. Now, all that aside, you can't find better water ice anywhere in New Castle County. I know a 91 year old lady who swears by their lemon water ice. Our staff photographer, Dennis Leizear, likes their sour apple. I'm partial to their cherry flavor, myself. They also sell pizza by the slice, so, try a pizza/water ice combo and get to know what good is! Bernie's will reopen for the season right after Easter, if the weather is agreeable. Please stop by. And when you do, tell Bernie you appreciate his commitment to our awards.