PORTLAND – Bill Goodman had to trust his instincts. He knew Allie Clement, his star junior point guard on the McAuley girls’ basketball team, wouldn’t tell him if she was hurting.

“Yeah, she fibbed with me a lot,” said Goodman, in his second year with McAuley. “She wanted to play. I had to go with my gut and what I saw, the healthy Allie or in-pain Allie.”

Either one was pretty good. Extremely good, in fact.

Clement, who played the season with what has been diagnosed as a stress fracture in her right foot, was simply the best player on the best team in the state. She led McAuley to its third consecutive Class A state title, its second consecutive unbeaten season, with a consistency and determination that separated her from others.

For that, she is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ basketball player of the year.

Others had better overall statistics and others had a greater impact on their teams winning state titles — notably Presque Isle’s Chandler Guerrette and Waynflete’s Martha Veroneau.

But even injured, Clement was the focal point for the Lions.

“We pressed everyone,” said Ron Cote, the former Scarborough coach. “But when we played McAuley, we took it off because of her. She has tremendous speed with the ball and I didn’t want her blowing past us.

“She’s just a tremendous player. She shoots off the dribble. She’s got a good outside shot. She plays great defense. She pretty much has it all.”

Clement, who has been offered scholarships from eight Division I colleges, averaged 17 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists this year.

“It was a very impressive year,” said Goodman. “At the beginning of the year, when she was more healthy, a lot of college coaches commented on how her game had improved. As the season went on and her foot hurt more and more, she fought through the pain and did whatever it took to help the team win.”

That, said Mike Giordano, the former South Portland coach, is what makes her so good.

“She’s the leader,” said Giordano. “Very seldom do they have to deal with adversity but when they do, she’s the one who wants to take control.”

Clement believes she injured her foot two years ago in the AAU national tourney. But it wasn’t until early this year that the pain increased. Eventually she had to wear a hard plastic boot on her right foot. Then she had to stop practicing.

The only time she took the boot off was to play. And she was still in great pain. Goodman tried to minimize it by cutting back on her minutes.

She got through by focusing on each day, each practice, each game.

“I think we accomplished all our goals,” said Clement. “We had a lot of high goals. And I’m proud of the team, the players and coaches. We accomplished every one of them.”

Every practice, she said, was a step to winning the state title.

“Whether I was hurt or not, I saw every game as an opportunity to get better,” she said.

Next, said Clement, is a chance to win four in a row.

“We all want to do it,” she said. “The players are committed.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH