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Pili just 2nd sophomore to win Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year honors

03/14/2017, 11:45pm AKDT
By Van Williams

Too good to ignore, Pili and former 3-time winner Ruthy Hebard have changed how underclassmen are viewed.

Dimond 6-foot forward averages 25 points and 14 rebounds and is nearly stoppable when she gets the ball in the low post, where she uses a dominating 1-2 punch of force and finesse / Photo credit Scott F. Minor

Former Gatorade Alaska POY Kelsey Griffin is playing in Australia.

It used to be the Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year was awarded to a senior, sometimes a junior.


But never a sophomore.


Then came along Ruthy Hebard and Alissa Pili.


They were too good to ignore.


For the second time in four years, a second sophomore has won the Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year award after Hebard did it in 2014 and Pili again in 2017.


Hebard – now a freshman starter with the University of Oregon – went on to win the Gatorade honor three straight years for West Valley.


Could Alaska be in store for a Pili three-peat?


Nothing in life is guaranteed, but the 6-foot Dimond forward looks like a safe bet.


She’s averaging 25.1 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocked shots per game for the 27-2 Lynx, who are one of the favorites at next week’s ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Class 4A Basketball State Championships in Anchorage.


Pili is nearly stoppable when she gets the ball in the low post, where she uses a dominating 1-2 punch of force and finesse.


She’s also improved other aspects of her game, like 3-point shooting and ballhandling in transition.


At 15, she’s arguably more polished than any great Alaska player at that age.


Gatorade Alaska Players of the Year

2017 Alissa Pili, Dimond

2016 Ruthy Hebard, West Valley

2015 Ruthy Hebard, West Valley

2014 Ruthy Hebard, West Valley

2013 Alysha Devine, Wasilla

2012 Hannah Mattson, West Valley

2011 Keiahnna Engel, Dimond

2010 Keiahnna Engel, Dimond

2009 Jenna Johnson, Wasilla

2008 Sylvia Bullock, South

2007 Talisa Rhea, Juneau-Douglas

2006 Lillian Bullock, Service

2005 Kelsey Griffin, Chugiak

2004 Chandice Cronk, Wasilla

2003 Ashley Mickens, East

2002 Tenecia Macon, East

2001 Azella Perryman, East

2000 Jessica Moore, Colony

1999 Jessica Moore, Colony

1998 Laura Ingham, East

1997 Laura Ingham, East

1996 Meghann Gleason, Juneau-Douglas

1995 Bev Krupa, West Valley

1994 Brit Jacobson, Chugiak

1993 Molly Tuter, Soldotna

1992 Molly Tuter, Soldotna

1991 Jody Hensen, Homer

1990 Karri Brown, Chugiak

1989 Monique Alex, East

1988 Jeannie Hebert, Monroe Catholic

1987 Sherrie Barlow, Kenai

1986 Dawn Schoenborn, East

Gatorade Alaska Notes

  • Ruthy Hebard leads Oregon in scoring [14.5] and rebounding [8.5], and was named to the Pac-12 all-conference and all-freshman teams.
  • Molly Tuter, Jessica Moore and Kelsey Griffin all played in the WNBA.
  • In 2009, Jessica Moore and the Indiana Fever advanced to the WNBA finals but lost in the decisive Game 5 to the Phoenix Mercury.
  • Kelsey Griffin, Jeannie Hebert, Talisa Rhea, Brit Jacobsen, Molly Tuter, Chandice Cronk and Jessica Moore each eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone at the NCAA D1 level.
  • With 2,033 career points at Nebraska, Kelsey Griffin holds the record for most points by an Alaskan at the NCAA D1 level.
  • In 2007, former Miami star Jeannie Hebert-Truax was selected to the third annual class of ACC Women's Basketball Legends.
  • Jody Hensen coached the NCAA D2 UAA women’s team to 2003 Great Alaska Shootout title.
  • Sisters Lillian Bullock and Sylvia Bullock each played two sports at the NCAA D1 level. Lillian played basketball and softball at North Carolina A&T; Sylvia played basketball at Miami and volleyball at Kansas.
  • Bev Krupa went on to earn All-Big Ten honors in volleyball at Purdue.


Van Williams is a freelance writer in Anchorage and a correspondent for the Alaska School Activities Association.

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