By BEN JOHNSON
Randee O’Donnell and Shelbie Kirby both led their teams in scoring. Both also navigated their respective teams to the Class 5A tournament.
Both were arguably the best two players in the Metro Lakes Conference this year.
But who ended up with Most Valuable Player honors when it was all said and done?
It goes without saying, Chad Walker’s vote goes to O’Donnell — his 5-foot-7 junior shooting guard.
“I think Randee O’Donnell is head and shoulders above Shelbie Kirby as the total package,” said Walker, who is in his fourth season as Tahlequah’s coach. “Randee can shoot and penetrate, and Shelbie struggles to create her own shot inside the paint.”
Unfortunately for O’Donnell, other coaches in the Metro Lakes Conference didn’t concur with Walker. They sided with Kirby, a 5-foot-4 senior guard from Collinsville who averaged 17 points a game.
Working in Kirby’s favor was her 20-point performance compared to O’Donnell’s four-point showing in Collinsville’s 58-55 victory in early February. Kirby also led the Lady Cardinals to a conference crown.
However, with Kirby possessing the most prestigious award in the league, Walker has already made his prediction for next season.
“I think Randee will be the league’s player of the year next year,” said Walker, whose team finished 17-10 and made the state tournament for the first time since 2001.
As for this season, joining O’Donnell — who was labeled the league’s Offensive Player of the Year — on the Metro Lakes Conference honor roll is Casey Beaston, Marisa Girdner and Whitney Wright.
“If you did it by teams,” Walker said, “it would have been Casey on the first team and Marisa and Whitney made the second squad.”
Tahlequah’s Maegan Blevins, Alissa Hadley and Lindsay Wade all picked up honorable mention accolades.
Nabbing the league’s top defensive honors was Claremore’s Ashlyn Glenn. Collinsville’s Kelly Clarke and Claremore’s Stephanie Shaw were named the league’s co-Coaches of the Year.
Wright named to MLC First Team
Mike Leafgreen knows he only has to replace one player when he begins preparations for the 2013-2014 season. However, it’ll be a monumental task in filling Lain Wright, who was named to the Metro Lakes Conference First Team.
“Lain is definitely one of the toughest and hardest working young men I’ve ever had the privilege to coach,” said Leafgreen, Tahlequah’s coach. “...His impact will be sorely missed.”
Wright averaged 14.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Tigers (8-16). Joining Wright on the league’s First Team is A.J. Surritte (Skiatook), Matt Craig (Bishop Kelley) and Coweta’s Ty Gunter and Caleb Norris.
Coweta’s Zach Norris was named the Metro Lakes Conference’s Player of the Year, while Coweta coach Scott Norris was tabbed the league’s Coach of the Year.
For Tahlequah, Dalton Cunningham was named to the league’s Third Team, and Jake Vader was a honorable mention selection.
“These two guys, along with the core we have returning, will all be looked upon to be leaders,” Leafgreen said. “The expectation for what is expected outside of practice will be increased, and I know these two will be at the front line trying to reach those heights.”
All-Metro Lakes Conference
Most Valuable Player: Shelbie Kirby (Collinsville); Offensive Player of the Year: Randee O’Donnell (Tahlequah); Defensive Player of the Year: Ashlyn Glenn (Claremore); Coaches of the Year: Kelly Clarke (Collinsville) and Stephanie Shaw (Claremore).
Bishop Kelley: Madi Schulz, Seana Stoia, Haley Stephens.
Claremore: Kaliegh Cox, Anna McGuire.
Collinsville: Haylie Kirby, Sawyer Salisbury, Madie Vaughn, Kyrston Wheeler.
Coweta: Haley Brewster, Kaitlyn Norton.
Pryor: Kelsie Kerns.
Skiatook: Mikayla Schulanberger.
Tahlequah: Casey Beaston, Marisa Girdner, Whitney Wright.
Bishop Kelley: Jenny Berry, Claire Collins, Leah Colon, Ashlyn McCorkle.
Claremore: Cherokee Gott, Bailey Steckline, Monica Taylor.
Collinsville: Kelsey Clarke, Shannon Diggers, Dakota Jefferson, Sam Smith.
Coweta: Courtney Haas.
Pryor: Tara Shelby.
Skiatook: Eden Henderson.
Tahlequah: Maegan Blevins, Alissa Hadley, Lindsay Wade.
Player of the Year: Zach Norris (Coweta); Coach of the Year: Scott Norris (Coweta).
First Team: A.J. Surritte (Skiatook), Ty Gunter (Coweta), Caleb Norris (Coweta), Lain Wright (Tahlequah), Matt Craig (Bishop Kelley).
Second Team: Zac Baumert (Pryor), Josh Limes (Bishop Kelley), Jesse Haynes (Skiatook), Chase Ross (Pryor), Cagney Roberson (Coweta).
Third Team: Ryan Ogg (Pryor), Dalton Cunningham (Tahlequah), Kendall Curtis (Collinsville), Robert Ross (Pryor), Brennan Adams (Bishop Kelley).
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