For the third straight season, the West Michigan Conference girls basketball championship came down to Hart and Montague.
This time, the Pirates went unscathed through the conference schedule and reigned supreme.
Both teams are represented in the race for 2022 VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference Player of the Year award with a third finalist being a 1,000-point scorer in her career. Hart’s Addi Hovey, Montague’s Kendall Osborne and Shelby’s Kendall Zoulek are the three finalists, selected by CatchMark SportsNet panelists Scott DeCamp, Brent Raeth and Zach Zweigle.
Next week, a poll will open and readers will vote to determine which of those three players wins the award. Fan polls of all 2021-22 winter sports will be released in one story at CatchMarkSports.com. Readers will be allowed to vote once per hour in each poll for as long as the polls remain open.
This week, a story will be published each day revealing three Player of the Year finalists in a winter sport. Here is the scheduled lineup:
- Monday: Boys basketball
- Tuesday: Girls basketball
- Wednesday: Boys wrestling
- Thursday: Girls wrestling
- Friday: Boys bowling
- Saturday: Girls bowling
All finalists for VanDyk Mortgage Player of the Year will be invited to an upcoming awards presentation and honorary dinner, where trophies and certificates will be presented. A trophy that stays in our CatchMark office will have the names of the Players of the Year engraved on it.
Here are the three finalists for Player of the Year in girls basketball, along with their season stats and achievements. They are listed alphabetically:
Hart, freshman forward
This 5-foot-10 freshman is one of the most athletic girls that Hart girls basketball coach Travis Rosema has seen in his coaching career, he said. She helped the Pirates overcome the loss of senior sister Jayd Hovey, who injured her knee early in the season and could have been a Player of the Year candidate in her own right.
Addi Hovey averaged 12.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. She was the leading scorer and rebounder for a Hart squad that had four first-team all-conference performers and one honorable mention recipient.
Hovey averaged 5.7 points in the four games prior to her sister’s injury and 13.2 ppg the rest of the way. In a 47-35 victory at Montague Feb. 17, which secured the Pirates the league title, Hovey neared a triple-double with a game-leading 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals.
Hovey put up these numbers while averaging only 23 minutes per game. In many games, she’d sit out the fourth quarter because of the lopsided nature of Hart’s victories. Defensively, she was assigned to defend the opponent’s top post player.
Hart finished the season with a 17-4 record, 14-0 in the conference.
Montague, sophomore point guard
The 5-foot-10 sophomore is a two-year varsity performer for the Wildcats, who elevated her game this season.
Osborne averaged 11.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game while shooting 56 percent inside the 3-point arc and 44 percent overall. She made 75 percent of her free-throw attempts. She led the West Michigan Conference in assists.
Osborne was a top-three vote-getter in all-conference voting submitted by coaches. She did many things for Montague, notching seven or more assists five times, snagging more than 10 rebounds five times and posting four double-doubles.
Montague coach Nick Thaler said that Osborne sacrificed her scoring for the betterment of the team, which made the Wildcats more dangerous. She organized her team offensively and defensively. With her combination of length and height, Osborne made things difficult on players she guarded.
Montague finished the season with a 17-5 overall record, 12-2 in the conference for second place. Last year, when the Wildcats won a second-straight league title, Osborne averaged 5.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals as a key contributor.
Shelby, senior guard
Zoulek closes her career as one of the top girls basketball players in Shelby history, finishing with 1,040 points and 606 rebounds.
This season, the 5-foot-9 senior averaged 14.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game. She posted a double-double in at least half of her games, according to Shelby coach Sarah Wolting.
Zoulek was a four-year varsity starter, three-year team captain, four-year all-conference selection and two-time all-area pick. She’s also earned all-state accolades in her career.
Per Wolting, Zoulek was the player the Tigers relied upon to carry the scoring load and to take the end-of-game shot. She also was a nifty passer.
Zoulek typically performed her best in Shelby’s biggest games. For example, in a 42-39 loss at Montague on Feb. 24, she finished with a game-high 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.
A three-sport athlete, Zoulek has signed to play basketball at Muskegon Community College, where she will pursue a degree in nursing.
Shelby finished with an 11-10 overall record this season, 7-7 in the West Michigan Conference.
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