By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – Who was this year’s pick for the 2014 Plainville Observer Female Athlete of the Year?
It wasn’t exactly an easy pick.
Again, there were some obvious choices this year and those candidates that were hard to pass up.
Alicia Gorski was one of the leaders of the Plainville volleyball team and worked hard over the years at the sport.
As the team’s gritty setter, her teammates trusted her to move the ball to the right spot and though the final record didn’t show it, Gorski always made a great accounting of herself.
Another competitor to choose from is Danielle Angelillo as she competed on the highest levels of both the girls soccer and softball teams.
Angelillo was selected by the coaches as the girls Plainville High School Athlete of the Year in 2014.
She was an outstanding member of the school’s soccer program just off her leadership qualities.
But she backed up her play with some awesome numbers.
In all, Angelillo posted 16 goals and 12 assists in a busy campaign’s worth of action.
And then, there were her achievements in softball.
Her softball numbers were off the chart as she batted an amazing .419 with 26 hits – tied for the team lead – to go along with nine walks and nine RBI.
Angelillo was perfect in the field with 36 putouts, making 26 assists, and not committing an error.
She helped her squad qualify for state tournament play for the second season in a row.
Again, Angelillo would have been an outstanding choice.
But this year’s award is going to someone who was really strong on the basketball court and has been a force on the hardwood since coming to Plainville High School in 2010.
Indeed, Kelsey Clemens had a stellar 2013-14 hoops campaign and earned this years’ Plainville Observer girls Athlete of the Year award off her basketball exploits.
When you can do something special on the hardwood during you scholastic career, it deserves a special recognition.
This season, Plainville made an outstanding 13-8 finish to its girls basketball campaign and earned a home tournament game.
But more to the point, Clemens – a four-year varsity member of the squad – lit up the scoreboard in terms of points.
In fact, Clemens became one of only a handful of players to reach the 1,000-point plateau and for Plainville, it was a rare but meaningful feat.
However, Clemens was more that just a major scoring option for the Blue Devils.
She was also a defensive standout and over the past two seasons, Clemens emerged as one of the team’s leaders.
That leadership helped navigate the ship in what was a very competitive CCC South division.
“She’s been a really strong leader this year,” said Gombotz of Clemens early in the girls hoop season. “It’s nice to have her on the court.”
But put the leadership aside for a minute and turn the focus back on her on court abilities.
The 6-foot forward could, frankly, do it all.
She earned all conference honors over her last three seasons of hoop and even off her freshman year, it was obvious that Clemens was going to be a very special player.
As a freshman, Clemens averaged 8.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks-per-game while as a sophomore, she pulled in numbers of 10.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.8 steals a contest in 23 games.
But over the last two years, Clemens has been a double-double machine for the Blue Devils.
Clemens was an instigator at the rim and had no problem finishing in the paint.
And, exactly, how did a team defend the elusive Clemens?
When teams packed the paint against her, Clemens made them pay by going outside.
Clemens had no problem shooting – and making – shots from three-point territory.
Trying to put the clamps on her over the past four seasons was easier said than done.
She ended up being a defensive nightmare opponents wanted nothing to do with.
But forget the offense for a minute.
If it was just about the defensive side of the court, Clemens was truly a standout.
Was there a better defensive rebounder in the league than Clemens?
Maybe Chandler Walker at Bristol Central or Daijia Brooks at Bristol Eastern were better rebounders in some games.
However, if you’re bringing up Clemens’s name in the same breath as Walker and Brooks’, it means the Plainville standout is in great company.
And over the course of the season, Clemens posted some tremendous numbers.
From Jan. 24 through Feb. 4, Clemens scored a total of 115 points in five games for an average of 23 points-per-game.
At the 15th Annual David T. Rybczyk Memorial Basketball tournament back in December, she made the all-tournament team while averaging 16.5 points-per-game during the two-day event.
In an opening season victory over Rocky Hill, Clemens dropped in 12 points and 15 rebounds on Dec. 11 while in a 46-14 drubbing of Bulkeley, she smashed the Bulldogs for 18 points, 16 rebounds, and blocked a total of five shots.
She damaged Maloney for 26 points and 15 rebounds in a 52-44 win while in a major 44-41 triumph over Southington, her numbers totaled 19 points, and 15 rebounds.
Off a sweep of Berlin, Clemens posted 21.0 points-per-game and in Plainville’s first encounter with the Redcoats, she snatched 16 rebounds.
And to end the regular season, she surpassed 1,000 points and smoked Bristol Central for 28 points in a big 46-32 win.
In state tournament play, Clemens had to battle Stonington’s Margot Calmar who ended the season as the program’s all-time leading rebounder.
Entering the contest with a 20.0 rebounding average on the season, Clemens – battling foul trouble – limited Calmar to just 16 rebounds in the game.
All the while, Clemens dropped in 25 points and snared 11 rebounds of her own in a tough 54-48 loss.
Clemens ended up her scholastic career playing at the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s Girls Basketball Festival in North Branford and, hopefully, will continue her playing career at the next level.
Whether she plays or not, schools like Clemson University, University of Connecticut, and the University of Rochester were in the mix.
Indeed, Clemens had a magnificent career for the Blue Devils and certainly leaves the program as one of its all-time top players.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.