The impact Grand Haven senior Abby Cole has made on the basketball court for the Buccaneers' girls basketball program speaks for itself.
In her three years at the varsity level, Cole has helped the Bucs tally an astonishing 77-2 record, which includes last season's thrilling come-from-behind victory over Grosse Pointe South in the Class A state championship at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. Grand Haven erased an 18-point second-half deficit to capture the program's first-ever state title. Cole played a crucial role in the comeback win, as she had 18 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots — cementing her as a true game-changer on the biggest stage.
Cole, a 6-foot-5 center who can reach 10-5 ½ on her vertical jump, has further bolstered that reputation during her senior season, as she's led the Bucs to a 26-0 record, a No. 3 ranking in Class A and a berth in state semifinals today.
She's averaging 13.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.9 blocks in about 25 minutes per game and was a finalist for the Miss Basketball award.
For her tremendous achievements, Cole is the Associated Press Class A Player of the Year, as selected by a panel of sports writers from across the state.
"She's the biggest impact player in the state, in my opinion," said Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer. "She can block shots, she rebounds, she can step out and hit the 15-foot jumper. But the thing with Abby is she makes everyone on her team better. She could average over 20 points a game, but why? She'd rather get everyone involved."
Cole headlines a talented and versatile group of All-State players in Class A, which includes sophomore forward Erika Davenport of Clarkston; senior guard Sydni Davis of Southfield-Lathrup; senior guard Sami Stormont of Royal Oak; senior guard Victoria Milton of Lansing Waverly; senior guard Kolbie Brow of Davison; senior center Claire DeBoer of Grosse Pointe South; senior guard/forward Antania Hayes of Detroit King; senior guard Paris McLeod of Inkster; junior guard Jessica Walter of Midland; and senior center Allie Havers of Mattawan.
One of Cole's many shining moments this season was a 17-block performance against Holland Christian on Dec. 4. It's a skill that's allowed her to tally five triple-doubles this season.
"A lot of that comes from volleyball, but she has such great timing and anticipation and it helps that she's extremely coordinated," Kowalczyk-Fulmer said.
Cole started receiving recruiting interest from Division I college basketball programs during her sophomore season at Grand Haven, but her heart had led her to another court — volleyball. The runner-up for this year's Miss Volleyball award, Cole has signed to play the sport at Michigan, meaning this hoops season will be her last.
Her future on the volleyball court appears to be bright, as she recently traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., to try out for a spot on USA Volleyball's Junior National Team. She was forced to miss her team's regular season finale because of the tryout and returned to Michigan in the early morning hours on a Sunday. Although exhausted, Cole still had enough left in her tank to dominate in the Bucs' district opener the following evening.
Fellow Grand Haven senior Hannah Wilkerson also earned honorable mention all-state honors, while Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer was an honorable mention for coach of the year.
To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.