Once again, Cole owns the Breslin
Jul 21, 2015 at 12:21 PM
Is there anything Abby Cole can’t do?
The Buccaneers’ sensational senior center did a little bit of everything in Friday’s Class A state semifinal win over Westland John Glenn, from blocking shots to grabbing rebounds to swishing free throws to knocking down a 3-pointer.
Wait, a 3-pointer?
That’s right, Cole knocked down her first career 3-pointer during the third quarter of the Bucs’ 55-46 victory.
The play came when point guard Amanda Merz was trapped by a pair of Westland John Glenn players. Her only outlet was to Cole, who caught the ball outside the 3-point stripe and in one fluid motion flipped the ball toward the rim.
The shot hit, bounced, bounced again, then rattled through the rim, giving the Bucs a 32-28 lead and sending the Bucs’ faithful fans into a frenzy.
“I’ve taken one other three this year, and I air-balled it,” Cole said with a smile after the game.
Coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer was admittedly a bit surprised to see her 6-foot-5 center firing one from long range, but wasn’t surprised to see it go in.
“She’s actually a good 3-point shooter,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “Obviously, I’d rather have her taking a 9-footer, but she could probably shoot the 3 a lot more. She has such a nice stroke.
“Hey, whatever works.”
The 3-pointer was out of Cole’s usual repertoiree, but the rest of her astounding numbers were nothing new for the Associated Press Class A Player of the Year.
Cole lodged her fourth triple-double in her last five games with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 12 blocked shots.
Cole’s effort cements her legacy as one of, if not the, best players in the state.
Cole finished third in the state’s Miss Basketball voting behind Freeland’s Tori Jankoska and Goodrich’s Taylor Gleason.
Reporters asked Kowalczyk-Fulmer after Friday’s game if Cole was the best player in Michigan.
“I think so,” the Bucs’ coach said. “I don’t know those other two girls (Jankoska and Gleason). We haven’t played either of them. They’re very talented, but I’d like to see if they could put up 31 points a game with Abby in the middle.
“She’s the biggest impact player in the state, with her ability to block shots, rebound and score around the rim. Plus, she makes everybody else on the team better.
“She was the Class A Player of the Year. I told her, it was probably better not to get (Miss Basketball) and have everybody think she should have rather than getting it and everybody thinking she should have.”
Cole clearly enjoys playing under the bright lights at the Breslin Center. She had two of her best games of her career during last year’s state tournament against Inkster and Grosse Pointe South, and backed up those performances with one of her most dominating efforts on Friday.
“We’ve got a great crowed, a great support system from Grand Haven,” she said, adding that the crowd support energizes her and her teammates. “The crowd goes wild every time we get a rebound, score a basket, block a shot.”
Cole hasn’t been in foul trouble often this season, but picked up her third and fourth fouls midway through the fourth quarter. It didn’t change the way she played.
“I think my blocks give my team energy,” she said.
The one thing that has changed is Cole’s role with the Bucs. Last year, she was a compliment to all-state guards Shar’Rae Davis and Alex Law.
This year, she carries the weight of her undefeated team on her shoulders.
It’s a change she’s embraced.
“I’ve stepped up as a leader on and off the court,” she said. “All the seniors have.”
There’s really not much Cole could do to further increase her standing as one of the most dominating athletes ever to walk the halls at Grand Haven.
But adding another state championship today wouldn’t hurt.