Ashley Storey trusted her Greely High teammates from the first day of preseason practice in November. She knew the Rangers had the potential to go far, perhaps even win the Class B state championship.

“And we did,” she said of Greely’s 56-39 win over Presque Isle.

Storey, a 6-foot-3 senior center, was the focal point. In being selected as the Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ basketball Player of the Year, she averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.5 blocked shots.

But that was only part of the story.

“You had to scheme your game around her – ‘How do we stop Storey?’ That often involved putting two kids on her,” said Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen. “But she could beat that with either a dribble or a pass. And the other players were great shooters because of Ashley. If she was not on the court, you could defend them one-on-one. With her on the court, you couldn’t.

“Very possibly, probably, she was the most important player to her team in the state of Maine this year, regardless of class.”

She showed that in many ways, said Greely Coach Joel Rogers. Maybe she didn’t talk a lot, but her actions told her teammates what they needed to know. Rogers spoke of a game against Yarmouth in which he had to pull his starters – including Storey – after 90 seconds of lackluster play.

“So Ashley comes to the bench and sits next to me,” said Rogers. “She knew why they were out. She didn’t mope. Instead she sat there and started cheering on the kids who were on the court. That’s leadership.”

Storey knew the spotlight would be on her more this year. She would be expected to score more, rebound more. She knew she had to do more.

“I felt I had to be a good leader,” she said. “I had to have confidence in everyone and I had to make sure everyone felt welcome.”

Storey will play at the University of New Hampshire. Rogers is certain she will contribute immediately.

But Storey knows there’s a lot of work to do. “You can always get better at every aspect of the game,” she said.

Those who watched her the last four years saw the improvement in ballhandling and shooting, where she has extended her range to beyond the 3-point line.

Rich Clark, the veteran coach at York, said her mental improvement was even more impressive.

“She just didn’t make any mistakes,” he said. “She didn’t get flustered when pressured, and two years ago you couldn’t say that. She really matured.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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