CRYSTAL FALLS - Lexi Gussert is the Associated Press Class D Player of the Year.
The 6-foot senior from Crystal Falls Forest Park and future Michigan State Spartan won the award for a second straight season.
Forest Park senior Lexi Gussert, right, blocks a shot by Superior Central’s Vanessa Freberg during an MHSAA regional final Thursday in Kingsford. Gussert was named the AP Class D Player of the Year and joined by Freberg on the AP All-State team. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo)
"Obviously, it's a well-deserved award for her," Forest Park head coach Jeff Syrjanen said. "She has been just a tremendous all-around player in her class or any class."
Gussert averaged about 30 points per game this season, surpassed the 2,000-point plateau in her fourth game and became the all-time leading scorer - boy or girl - in the history of the Upper Peninsula.
She is one of five unanimous selections on this year's AP Class D All-State team, joining Posen senior Korynn Hincka, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart senior Sara Hansen, Fruitport Calvary Christian junior Taylor Richards and Twining Arenac Eastern coach Butch Beckham.
AP Class D girls basketball All-State list
By The Associated Press
The Associated Press Class D girls basketball All-State team, as selected by a panel of 10 Michigan sports writers:
Lexi Gussert, Crystal Falls Forest Park, 6-0, Sr., Player of the Year
Kari Borowiak, Gaylord St. Mary, 5-6, Sr.
Vanessa Freberg, Eben Junction Superior Central, 5-9, Sr.
Sara Hansen, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 5-7, Sr.
Korynn Hincka, Posen, 6-1, Sr.
Kristen Massey, Novi Franklin Road Christian, 5-5, Sr.
Mikayla Terry, Lansing Christian, 6-0, Sr.
Katie Theut, Marine City Cardinal Mooney Catholic, 5-8, Sr.
Tiffany Wangerin, Stephenson, 5-8, Sr.
Taylor Richards, Fruitport Calvary Christian, 6-1, Jr.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Butch Beckham, Twining Arenac Eastern
SPECIAL MENTION (nominees receiving two or more votes from the 10-member panel):
Emileigh Ferguson, Bear Lake; Annie Fila, Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian; Abby Andrews, Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner; Lucia Westrick, Clarkston Everest; Chantal Murdick, Twining Arenac Eastern; Tiny Hunter, Wyoming Potter's House Christian
HONORABLE MENTION (nominees receiving one or no votes from the 10-member panel):
Teslyn Tyner, Eben Junction Superior Central; Hannah Harrington, Bear Lake; Leighton Koepke, Bellaire; Mackenna Kelly, Frankfort; Libby Munoz, Leland; Charity Godbold, Southfield Christian; Madison Southers, Marine City Cardinal Mooney Catholic; Elissa Chambers, Kingston; Jenna Boyl, Kingston; Averi Gamble, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart; Brooke Schutte, Twining Arenac Eastern; Courtney Wolf, Morrice; Makayla Craun, Colon; Ally Fuller, Athens; Janelle Kuiper, Bellevue
Mark Simon, Stephenson
Matthew B. Mowery, The Oakland Press (Pontiac); Dick Hoekstra, Lansing State Journal; David Goricki, The Detroit News; David Bossick, Ludington Daily News; Fred Kelly, Midland Daily News; Pete Cunningham, MLive-Ann Arbor; Matt DeYoung, Grand Haven Tribune; Paul Costanzo, Times Herald (Port Huron); Corky Emrick, Sturgis Journal; Eric Woodyard, MLive-Flint
Lansing Christian senior Mikayla Terry, Novi Franklin Road Christian senior Kristen Massey, Superior Central senior Vanessa Freberg, Stephenson senior Tiffany Wangerin, Gaylord St. Mary senior Kari Borowiak and Marine City Cardinal Mooney Catholic senior Katie Theut also received enough votes from a 10-person panel to earn first-team AP All-State honors in Class D.
Gussert guided Crystal Falls Forest Park to its first undefeated regular season (20-0). She scored a regular-season high of 42 points in a January game against Iron Mountain North Dickinson. In that game, Gussert made 10 3-pointers to erase the school record of nine held by her brother Drew.
In the regional final, she scored even more.
Gussert had 43 points and made the 99th 3-pointer of her career as she led the top-ranked Lady Trojans into the quarterfinals with a 69-52 win over Superior Central. The state record for 3-pointers made is 100, a mark set by Jenna Felice of Waterford Our Lady.
Always putting her team first, Gussert took her latest feat in stride.
"I just want to give credit to my team," she said.
Syrjanen said Gussert deserves to be recognized because of her skills as a player and how she carries herself as a person.
"Her personality, leadership, how she conducts herself on and off the court is exemplary," he said.
With more than 2,500 career points, Gussert will finish her prep career among the top five career scorers in state history.
"I don't know anybody really that can shut us down from scoring with Lexi out there," Syrjanen said. "Lexi steps up in big games. Most of her highest point totals this season have been against the better teams we've played."
Gussert, who also plays volleyball and golf, had seven triple-doubles this season and averaged 12 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.9 steals per game.
"I think this year more than ever, she has elevated the game of all her teammates," Syrjanen said. "That's been a huge thing for us this season. She is stronger, faster and very confident. She has really worked on her strength, and her leadership has reached new heights this season."