Pelham sophomore Laci Gogan named Player of the Year

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

PELHAM – As an eighth grader, she popped onto the scene as a starter for the Pelham Panthers. Now, three years later, Laci Gogan just finished a historic sophomore season.

To many, Gogan is still a stranger. But with progression each of the last three years and two years still left with the Panthers, she is starting to earn recognition for her talent, which was put on display masterfully during the 2020-2021 season.

During her sophomore season alone, Gogan averaged 19.1 points per game, which was six points more than anyone else in the county, while also averaging 3.1 assists per game, another top performance in the county, and 2.8 rebounds per game.

While those numbers were enough to help the Pelham standout earn this year’s Shelby County girls basketball Player of the Year award, she also helped lead the Panthers to a regular season and area tournament championship as well as the Sweet 16 for the first time in the modern playoff format.

The two years before head coach Crosby Morrison and Gogan arrived on the scene, Pelham went a combined 11-38.

During the first year for both, the Panthers finished runner-up in the area and 11-16 overall. As an eighth grader that season, Gogan averaged 7.3 points, three assists and two rebounds per game.

But she started to look like a star during her freshman season when she averaged 17 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game to help Pelham advance to the sub-regional round of the playoffs for the second year in a row.

She has already surpassed 1,000 points, scoring 1,035 in her first three years and was impressive late this season for the Panthers. She scored 28 in the first round of the area tournament and then scored in double figures in both the area title game and the sub-regional win with 18 to help Pelham make school history.

Gogan also missed a chunk of time this season, which was common for the Panthers, who dealt with COVID-19 and injury struggles throughout the season.

Yet, when she stepped back on the court, she didn’t skip a beat and got right back to dominating defenses as a tough guard to slow down.

When she was forced to miss time, it became evident how important she was to Pelham’s success, as the Panthers struggled during their stretch without her against some of the state’s toughest competition.

But she came back to complete the team during area play, which led to the Panthers finishing off area play 6-0 during the regular season and 2-0 in the area tournament, before finishing the season 18-10 overall.

Now, as the run-away winner of this year’s award as a sophomore, she’s laid her claim as one of the best in the state and will return looking to help the Panthers go a step further next season.