GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Had the Ohio Valley Publishing ‘12’ girls basketball team been in existence from 2011 through 2014, former Eastern standout Jenna Burdette would have been a four-time selection as the tri-county’s top player.
As it is, however, current EHS senior Laura Pullins will be the only member of the 2014 Division IV state championship squad to ever enjoy such an honor.
Pullins, who has verbally committed to Marietta College for hoops, has been named the Player of the Year for the 2016-17 OVP 12 girls basketball team — as chosen by the sports staff from the daily publications of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
Pullins — a 6-foot guard and forward — started her prep career by coming off the bench as a freshman on a state championship squad, but the current two-time All-Ohio selection has been a major contributor in keeping the Lady Eagles relevant since the departure if Burdette and company following the 2014 campaign.
Pullins, however, only solidified her status as the area’s top overall player with a career-high 34 points in the 58-53 double overtime Division IV district championship victory against top-seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame on Thursday night.
In guiding EHS back to its first regional appearance since 2014, Pullins — who eclipsed 1,000 career points earlier in the season against Southern — surpassed Jordan Parker as the program’s second all-time leading scorer. Pullins, Parker and Burdette were all teammates on that 2014 title squad.
Pullins averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists throughout the course of the regular season while leading the Green and White into regionals with a 21-3 overall record — tops in the tri-county area. It is also the first time since 2014 that EHS has 20-or-more wins in a season.
Pullins, however, was not alone in representing Eastern on the OVP 12 squad as the Lady Eagles had a total of five honorees on the squad — which also included first-year EHS coach Jacob Parker.
Parker — who replaced John Burdette after eight seasons and four regional appearances — was named the tri-county’s top coach for getting Eastern to its eighth regional tournament … and first since 2014. Burdette, ironically, was named the OVP 12 girls coach of the year last winter.
Pullins was one of six repeat selections to the tri-county all-star squad and three of the five chosen starters were Lady Eagles. All seven of the Ohio schools had at least one player honored, while Point Pleasant, Wahama and Hannan all failed to land a player on the team.
Joining Pullins on the starting unit were Southern senior Faith Teaford, EHS sophomore Jess Parker, Meigs sophomore Kassidy Betzing and EHS junior Elizabeth Collins. A quartet of that starting five are repeat selections to the OVP 12 squad, with the exception of Parker.
Teaford — a 6-1 center — led the Lady Tornadoes (12-11) with 18.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while becoming the first SHS girl to surpass 1,000 career points in over a decade. Teaford — who has committed to Wilmington College — was the OVP 12 player of the year last winter.
Betzing — a 5-7 guard — led the Lady Marauders (13-11) in scoring with 11.3 points per game while also averaging 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.3 steals.
Collins — a 6-1 center — averaged a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds per outing, while Parker — a 5-4 guard — chipped in 9.5 points, six rebounds and five assists a game.
The remaining seven bench spots mostly went to Gallia County programs, with the exception of two. Sophomore Alyson Bailey completed Eastern’s representation, while sophomore Madison Fields wrapped things up for MHS.
Bailey — a 5-5 guard — mustered five points, three rebounds and two steals per game while also serving as Eastern’s top defender. Fields — a 5-2 guard — averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Maroon and Gold.
OVCS senior Rachel Sargent and GAHS senior Adrienne Jenkins were also repeat selections to the OVP 12 girls squad.
Sargent — a 5-8 guard and forward — led the Lady Defenders (8-9) with 14.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.2 blocks, 4.5 steals and 2.3 assists per game. Sargent — who surpassed 1,000 career points at the beginning of this year — leaves OVCS as the school’s second all-time leading girls scorer.
Jenkins — a 5-9 forward — averaged nine points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and a steal each night for the 10-14 Blue Angels. Jenkins has given a verbal commitment to the University of Rio Grande for basketball.
Hunter Copley — a 5-8 sophomore guard and forward — also joined the all-star squad after averaging 10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per contest for the Blue Angels.
Senior Erin Jackson — a 5-7 guard that has committed to Alice Lloyd College for basketball — led River Valley (2-21) with 16 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists per game.
The remaining spot went to South Gallia junior Erin Evans, a 5-7 forward that averaged 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds for the 4-19 Lady Rebels.
In Mason County, Point Pleasant finished the year with a 3-20 record. Hannan was 3-18 overall, while Wahama went 2-21 on the year. Besides Eastern — which currently has three postseason wins in getting to regionals — only Southern, Gallia Academy and Meigs mustered a tournament victory in the tri-county area.
Other players receiving votes included EHS sophomore Becca Pullins, PPHS sophomore Peyton Campbell, WHS freshman Hannah Rose and GAHS senior Carly Shriver. Campbell was an OVP 12 selection as a freshman in 2016.
Only one of the special awards was a unanimous selection between the three voters, which was Parker being named coach of the year. Teaford also received a single vote in the POY race.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.