Gamble named top Class D player; Posen’s Hincka earns all-state honors

By NATE

SCHNEIDER

Mount Pleasant Morning Sun

MOUNT PLEASANT (AP) – Averi Gamble has made it a routine to dominate during the biggest games of her high school career.

The Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy 6-foot-3 senior center is a four-year varsity contributor, putting herself on the map as one of the best players in Class D when she scored 25 points to help the Irish to a state championship in 2014 vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park and then-Miss Basketball Lexi Gussert.

Gamble continued her ascension the past two years, culminating with being named as the 2016 Class D Player of the Year on The Associated Press All-State team.

“It’s really cool to go out with different team and individual titles my senior year,” Gamble said. “It’s bittersweet because I know it’s coming to a close, but I like it.”

During the regular season, Gamble averaged 17 points to go with nine rebounds and three blocked shots. She led the Irish to a one-loss regular season and the Mid-State Activities Conference championship.

The top scoring effort for Gamble came in a 40-point outburst in December vs. rival Beal City.

Gamble has been a constant presence from a leadership and performance standpoint on a young Sacred Heart roster that includes a freshman plus two sophomore starters as well as a key sophomore reserve.

“Our young players have a lot of drive and want to get out there and play,” Gamble said. “Having all the younger girls around me, it pushes me even more to be a leader and vocal, which I’m not used to. It’s fun. They listen when I have something to say.”

Gamble is the daughter of former 10-year NBA player Kevin Gamble, who is now an assistant for the Central Michigan University men’s basketball team.

“He gives me some advice whenever he sees something but for the most part he just lets me go out and do my thing,” Gamble said of her father.

Being such an intimidating presence for opposing teams due to her height and skill level, Gamble draws near-constant double teams and the occasional triple or quadruple team when the ball is in her hands. The attention she draws has allowed Gamble to improve her court vision and become a more adept passer.

“She’s drawing more double and triple teams than ever before,” Sacred Heart coach Damon Brown said. It’s day in and day out. Those double teams got to her as a freshman and sophomore, but her junior and senior year she knows it comes with the territory. We’ve learned how to use her better. Instead of keeping her on the block, we’ve moved her around and allowed her to be effective in different ways.”

For his efforts leading Sacred Heart to a 15th MSAC title in 16 years and a Class D ranking of third at the end of the regular season, Brown is the Coach of the Year.

Joining Gamble on the All-State first team are Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes’ Alex Troy, Adrian Lenawee Christian’s Kiara Nieto, Pittsford’s Maddie Clark, Pittsford’s Jaycie Burger, Frankfort’s Mackenna Kelly, Mackinaw City’s Chelsey Closs, Posen’s Jenna Hincka, Fruitport Calvary Christian’s Allyson Richards, Martin’s Jazmin Hildebrand and Newberry’s Taylor Bryant.