A fitting end to a fine athletic career, Mendon senior Brooke Howard landed on the Associated Press Class C All-State First Team after helping power the Hornets to their first state quarterfinals appearance.
Howard, who isn’t participating in a spring sport, earned the same honor last year in Class D and was an honorable mention as a sophomore. She also earned all-state status in volleyball this past fall.
“It definitely has been a long journey from freshman year being that little bitty baby on the court to being a big senior,” said the 5-foot-11 Howard, who tossed in a school-record 1,440 career points in four years as a starter. “Getting back-to-back all-state is incredible. All that hard work and the extra 10 minutes spent in the gym at the end of the day all paid off and was all worth it.”
Howard plans to attend Grand Valley State University and focus on her studies, hanging up all her athletic gear for good, including what became an increasing number of braces and rolls of kinesiology tape used to treat injuries. It’s time to let the body heal, she said.
Even though the competitions are over, that competitive streak doesn’t die.
“I’m the type of person that always wants to push one step farther,” said Howard, who scored 374 points and grabbed 154 rebounds this season. “We totaled up my career points … I was kicking myself because I was so close to 1,500,” she said. “I’m always pushing myself. It definitely has been one heck of a ride. I appreciate all of the awards I’ve gotten and all the hard work has paid off. It’s definitely a great feeling to get all this recognition for all that hard work.”
Thrown into the deep end as a freshman starter, Howard tried to do her job without “stepping on any toes.” She quickly developed into a vocal leader to match her command as the Hornets’ scoring workhorse. Typically point guards aren’t called upon to pile up points, but it was a heavy load Howard gladly accepted.
“I never really had time to step back and just be that freshman,” she said. “But it was a great experience to get pushed. Right away as a freshman I was pushed and it allowed me to succeed later in life.
“As you learn the game and figure out what you can do and what you’re good at, and what you can’t do, then you start picking it up. Being a senior, you want your year to be successful and push hard. If that means pushing your other teammates and being hard on them for some things, whatever has to be done to get that win is what you have to do.”
Class C Player of the Year
Kelley Wright, St. Ignace, 5-10, Sr.
Karina Cole, Lincoln Alcona, 5-10, Sr.
Claire Denecker, Blissfield, 6-0, Sr.
Brook Howard, Mendon, 5-10, Sr.
Jade Madison, New Buffalo, 5-9, Sr.
Rachel McInerney, Saginaw Nouvel Catholic, 6-1, Sr.
Reyna Frost, Reese, 6-0, Jr.
Meredith Hamlet, McBain, 5-9, Jr.
Aaliah Hill, Flint Hamady, 6-0, Jr.
Lola Ristovski, Grosse Pointe Woods Liggett, 5-9, Jr.
Co-Coaches of the Year:
Ryan Gilbert, Blissfield
Keith Smith, Flint Hamady
Mikayla Duflo, Carson City-Crystal
Emily Severn, New Lothrop
Jalisha Terry, Flint Hamady
Madissen Swanson, L’Anse; Kassy Nelson, Leroy Pine River; Rachel Hintz, Elk Rapids; Madison Showerman, Johannesburg-Lewiston; Juliana Phillips, Traverse City St. Francis; Madeline Boss, Charlevoix; Kristin Doxen, Madison Heights Bishop Foley; Amber Thomas, Madison Heights Madison; Cambria Handy, Britton Deerfield; Jessie Manders, Manchester; Miara Okie, Sandusky; Alyssa Webb, Sandusky; Kayla Deering, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker; Erika Wendling, Breckenridge; Paige Gotham, Reese; Sarah Miller, Blanchard Montabella; Taylor Smith, Blanchard Montabella; Jordan Schneider, Beal City; Bri Alspaugh, St. Louis; Mackenzie Geister, Carson City-Crystal; Victoria Hedemark, Dansville; Michaela DeKilder, Gobles; Bailey Manis, Homer; Emily VanVliet, Grandville Calvin Christian; Kassidy Blough, East Jackson
Honorable Mention Coaches
Todd Hamlet, McBain; Larry Farmer, Carson City-Crystal; Josh Hood, Niles Brandywine