EAST LANSING (AP) - Lexi Gussert will take just about any opportunity to get on a basketball court.
The Forest Park junior was enjoying a bye in the MHSAA Class D district tournament hosted in Crystal Falls in late February with a little game of horse with a couple of managers from a visiting school.
"She told them, 'Let's go play horse,'" Forest Park coach Jeff Syrjanen said. "When the coach came out, he told them to watch out because they don't know who they're up against."
Paul Gerard Photo
Forest Park’s Lexi Gussert shoots for three during Thursday’s regional championship against North Central.
Gussert just happens to be the Associated Press Class D Player of the Year. The 6-footer is a two-time All-State selection and averaged 32 points per game this season for the Trojans.
The three-sport athlete also averaged 11 rebounds per game, five assists, four steals and four blocks and has drawn interest from schools across the country from Tennessee to Michigan State to Connecticut. She also played on Forest Park's volleyball team in the fall and golf team in the spring.
"This is a tremendous thing for the whole team," Syrjanen said. "Lexi would be the first to tell you this is something that can't happen without hard-working teammates.
"We're all just thrilled for this award. It's certainly well-deserved, not only because of her stats, but the intangibles she brings - her leadership, work ethic and how well she works with her teammates."
Syrjanen said what people don't realize is how hard Lexi works at her game. She is always the last to leave the gym at practice, and is constantly striving to becoming better.
"You can't receive an award like this without that kind of effort," he said.
There were four unanimous selections to this year's Class D All-State team - Lexie Robak of Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Kelley Wright of St. Ignace and Cassidy Boensch of Au Gres-Sims, along with Gussert. That quartet is joined by Our Lady of the Lakes' Ava Doetsch, Novi Franklin Road Christian's Kristen Massey, Fruitport Calvary Christian's Taylor Richards, Eben Junction Superior Central's Vanessa Freberg, Mendon's Brooke Howard and Posen's Korynn Hincka.
Of those selected to the team, just two - Robak and Doetsch - are seniors.
This year's Coach of the Year is Mendon's Leasa Griffith, who continued the Hornets' progression into a tough team. The Hornets went 19-1 in the regular season with their sole loss coming to unbeaten Niles Brandywine.
Wright averaged 19.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in her junior year for the unbeaten Saints, a school that was in Class C, but is Class D this year.
The Associated Press Class D girls basketball All-State team, as selected by a panel of 10 Michigan sports writers:
Lexi Gussert, Crystal Falls Forest Park, 6-0, Jr., Player of the Year
Ava Doetsch, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, 5-4, Sr.
Lexie Robak, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, 5-7, Sr.
Vanessa Freberg, Eben Junction Superior Central, 5-9, Jr.
Korynn Hincka, Posen, 6-1, Jr.
Brooke Howard, Mendon, 5-10, Jr.
Kristen Massey, Novi Franklin Road Christian, 5-5, Jr.
Kelley Wright, St. Ignace, 5-10, Jr.
Taylor Richards, Fruitport Calvary Christian, 6-1, So.
Cassidy Boensch, Au Gres-Sims, 6-3, Fr.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Leasa Griffith, Mendon
SPECIAL MENTION (nominees receiving two or more votes from the 10-member panel):
Elizabeth Perkins, Lansing Christian; Katie Theut, Marine City Cardinal Mooney; Katherine Salisz, Muskegon Catholic Central; Emileigh Ferguson, Bear Lake; Kierstin Davis, Holland Calvary; Sarah Madalinski, Bark River-Harris
Steve Robak, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
HONORABLE MENTION (nominees receiving one or no votes from the 10-member panel):
Courtney Wallis, Mackinaw City; Crystal Shafor, Kingston; Mikayla Terry, Lansing Christian; Chelsea Wesley, Morrice; Teslyn Tyner, Eben Junction Superior Central; Haley Doyle, Manistee Catholic; Destiny Froberg, Climax-Scotts; Chantal Murdick, Arenac Eastern; Erica Hansen, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart; Anika Sproull, Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner; Victoria Hedemark, Dansville; Audrey Oswalt, Athens; Charity Godbold, Southfield Christian