Over the last four years, the girls’ basketball team at South Portland High won 80 percent of its games, going 64-17 and advancing to the Class AA South title game each of the past two seasons.

And Lydia Henderson was right in the middle of all that success.

Oh, you probably wouldn’t find the senior guard among the Red Riots’ leading scorers, but she was there in every dribble, every pass deflected, every steal, every forced turnover.

That’s why Henderson, who is heading to Bentley University, was named the Unsung Hero at this year’s Varsity Maine Awards.

“I told her as a freshman she would have an impact on our success,” said Lynne Hasson, whose first year as head coach was Henderson’s freshman year. “If you look at us, why we have been so good, it’s because we were so good defensively. And she was the leader of the defense.”

Henderson, 18, laughed a little when talking about the award.

“I was excited but it’s kind of ironic,” she said. “I won the Unsung Hero award but I’m not really (unsung) anymore if I’m getting the award.

“It does mean a lot. I always prided myself on just working hard and doing the little things that I think people outside the team don’t really see. It’s nice to get some credit.”

Henderson – who also played field hockey (her best sport, she said) and tennis (No. 2 doubles) for South Portland – loved being in the gym in a big game. And she feels fortunate to have played in so many over these last four years.

“I was lucky to be part of four really solid teams and every year we got better and better,” she said.

Her role, unsung as it may have been, fit her well, according to Hasson.

“I think she always put team first,” said Hasson. “It was always team first and I don’t think she regretted that approach for one second.

“She didn’t care (about individual statistics) and that’s what was so special about her. If I had to start a team, Lydia would be one of my first couple of kids to start a team with. She was one of the reasons we did so well. There was no drama. Great leadership. A sense of humor. And a great work ethic.”

Henderson, who will study mathematical sciences at Bentley, said she simply did what was needed.

“I focused on getting the ball to people I know who would make the shot,” she said. “I made sure I contributed the little things, like boxing out or applying defensive pressure, to make sure we stayed together as a team. It wasn’t necessarily about getting the points.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH