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Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo area players share MHSAA Division 1 girls basketball Player of the Year

By STEVE KAMINSKI

Grand Rapids Press

The Michigan Associated Press All-State voting panel didn’t have it easy when it came to selecting the Player of the Year in Division 1 for girls basketball.

East Grand Rapids’ Jillian Brown and Kalamazoo Central’s Morasha Wiggins were both Miss Basketball finalists, averaged over 20 points a game, helped their teams advance to the regional finals and are headed to Power 5 schools to play hoops.

It’s no surprise Wiggins and Brown will share the honor of being named Player of the Year.

Wiggins is the 18th-best player in the nation and Brown is No. 50, according to one set of rankings. Wiggins, a 6-foot-1 guard, suffered a torn ACL that ended her junior season. But she bounced back strong to lead her team to a 14-2 record. She averaged 24.3 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3.5 steals and 1.3 blocks.

Wiggins will continue her education and basketball career at North Carolina.

“She’s meant the world to the program, obviously from a talent standpoint, but also in terms of her leadership skills,” Kalamazoo Central coach Jason Plunkett said. “The young girls have looked up to her, and they see how much work she puts in, and they’re following right along behind her in terms of developing the work ethic that it takes to be successful. Her mark on the program doesn’t stop now that she’s done playing for us; we’ll feel her mark on the program for years to come.”

The 5-10 Brown completed her career as East Grand Rapids’ all-time leading scorer, finishing with 1,486 points for a team that was 14-3 last season. She averaged 20.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Brown made 57 3-pointers in 17 games, shooting nearly 40 percent for the Pioneers.

“She has had a lot of different honors coming in, and they are all well-deserved,” coach Troy Hammond said. “I have just never met a kid who has worked harder, so it’s cool to see it pay off with some individual accolades. She has always meant a lot to our team, and she always put our team first. She is just a winner, so it’s really cool to see honored in these ways.”

Kalamazoo lost to East Lansing in the regional finals. East Grand Rapids fell to eventual Division 1 state champion Hudsonville in a regional final. The two teams clashed on Feb. 20, with the Pioneers beating Kalamazoo Central 53-42.

Brown will play at Northwestern next season. Her sister, Olivia Brown, has transferred from St. Bonaventure to the University of Valparaiso. Sister Macy Brown, has 10 Division I offers, including four from the Big Ten.