Late in the third quarter of the Class A girls’ basketball state championship game, Anna DeWolfe of Greely chased down a loose ball heading out of bounds in front of the Hampden Academy bench.

DeWolfe reached the ball just before it went out, then flipped a no-look, behind-the-back pass toward midcourt – right to a teammate.

It led to a fast-break basket by Julia Martel that gave the Rangers a 17-point lead. More than that, the play illustrated how DeWolfe – perhaps the state’s most dynamic player – can affect a game.

Offensively and defensively, the junior point guard was the leader of Greely’s Class A champions and is our selection as Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year.

DeWolfe had heady competition for the honor, especially from Gorham’s 6-foot-2 junior center, Mackenzie Holmes, who led the Rams to the Class AA state title game, and Houlton’s 6-foot senior forward Kolleen Bouchard, whose career included four trips to a state title game and more than 2,000 career points. But DeWolfe’s ability to impact a game in so many ways earned her the nod.

Brunswick Coach Sam Farrell said this of DeWolfe: “She’s the best player I’ve seen all year. She can score any way she wants. You can’t pressure her, and there’s not a better passer in the state. And the biggest thing this year was that she was physically a much stronger player.”

DeWolfe has been a two-way threat since she stepped onto the court as a freshman. As point guard the last two years, she has kept Greely’s offense running. Her relentless pressure helps the Rangers create havoc defensively. This season, however, DeWolfe took a big step forward in her development: She became a leader.

“She just absolutely took charge of her teammates as far as motivation goes and helping them on the floor,” said Coach Todd Flaherty. “Assertive is the word I would use. She became assertive in practice, and that carried over into the games. And she does it in a nice way, too. It’s kind of subtle, but at the same time, direct and clear.”

DeWolfe, who has verbally committed to attend Fordham University, said it was simply her time to lead.

“My freshman and sophomore years we had so many upperclassmen that we looked up to,” she said. “This year, I was an upperclassman. But I see it as more the role of a big sister. We all know leadership can come from any age or any grade. I think we had a few people step up this year and felt that was their role.”

DeWolfe missed three games because of an ankle injury, but averaged 22.9 points, 4.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 3.2 steals. She has 1,382 career points.

Her offense actually changed a bit this year, relying less on 3-point shots and more on penetration and step-back jumpers.

“Part of that was simply her maturing,” said Flaherty. “We changed our offensive philosophy this year to include more dribble-drive.”

DeWolfe, who plays soccer in the fall, didn’t seem to mind giving up the ball more as long as the Rangers kept winning.

“Finishing that way was absolutely amazing. We really worked hard for that,” she said. “There’s no better feeling than playing with your best friends. Winning with them was outstanding.

“I think that was the key to our success. Everyone was close in a family atmosphere. Playing with your best friends is awesome and a dream come true.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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