County has 10 players honored on 2023 All-State basketball team

Published 4:25 pm Sunday, March 19, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

With the 2022-2023 high school basketball season now in the books, postseason awards have started rolling in and 10 local players from Shelby County received one of the biggest honors of the year by earning a spot on the 2023 All-State basketball team.

Between the boys and girls teams, this year’s group of All-State players included two local players earning a spot on the first team, one on the second team, four on the third team and three honorable mention players.

The highest honors went to Spain Park’s Sam Wright and Pelham’s Laci Gogan, who both were named to the All-State first team.

Wright earned a spot on the Class 7A boys team, while Gogan did so on the Class 6A girls team.

During his senior season at Spain Park, Wright led the Jaguars to the Final Four for the third year in a row as the team’s leading scorer. He totaled 16.4 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game in addition to 1.2 assists.

As for Gogan, she closed out a remarkable career this season for the Panthers, helping lead the team back to the Elite Eight after last year’s Final Four appearance.

She finished the year averaging 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, while she finished her career with 2,034 points. She has now been named to the All-State team for the last three years as the county’s player of the year the previous two seasons.

Beyond those two, Coosa Valley’s Brayden Wilson was the only local player to earn a spot on this year’s All-State second team as one of the top players in the AISA on the boys side.

Wilson led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists. He averaged 30 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game and 1.3 assists per game as the top player for the Rebels this season.

A total of four players were named to their respective third team.

On the boys’ side, Oak Mountain’s Matthew Heiberger, Spain Park’s Zach Gray and Helena’s Josh Williams, three of the best players in Shelby County this season, earned a spot on the first team.

Heiberger, this year’s Shelby County Player of the year, and Gray both did so in Class 7A, while Williams earned a spot in Class 6A.

Heiberger averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, leading Oak Mountain back to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year.

Like Wright, Gray was important for the Jaguars this season, as the senior averaged 16 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists to play a key role in leading the Jags to the Final Four.

As for Williams, he was one of the top three scorers for the second season in a row. He led the Huskies with 17.9 points per game, while he also added 5.2 rebounds and two assists per game. He led Helena to the regular season area championship as well as the area tournament championship.

On the girls’ side, Coosa Valley’s Emma Poore earned a spot on the All-State third team in the AISA. A leader for the Rebels, Poore was also named an AISA All-Star this season.

Outside of those players, Chelsea’s Paul Lanzi earned an honorable mention spot on the Class 6A boys All-State team, while Oak Mountain’s Raegan Whitaker and Vincent’s Ja’Kalynn McGinnis did so for the girls in Class 7A and 2A, respectively. 

Lanzi finished as the county’s second leading scorer among AHSAA teams this season with 18.8 points per game, while he also averaged 2.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game to lead the Hornets during their first season in Class 7A.

Whitaker was the county’s leading scorer on the girls side this season with 18 points per game, while she also put together an impressive 9.8 rebounds per game to lead the Eagles.

As for McGinnis, she averaged a double-double this season with 16.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, while she also averaged 1.9 assists per game. The sophomore center already has 698 career points.