Laci Gogan named Player of the Year for third straight season

Published 7:28 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

When she stepped on the basketball court with the varsity players as a seventh grader, eventually earning a starting role full time as an eighth grader, Laci Gogan didn’t know the success was ahead.

Now, close to seven years later, as she prepares to head off to the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Gogan will walk away as a three-time Shelby County Player of the Year winner.

A member of the All-County First Team all four years of high school after this season, she averaged her lowest point total of that span during her senior season, yet, it was still the third most in the county.

Facing one of the most difficult schedules of any team from the 6A classification, Gogan averaged 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game this season.

She did that in the face of double teams against the likes of 7A State Champion Hoover, other 7A classification teams and the top teams from the 6A classification.

Yet, she still was able to find success coring, while also distributing the ball to her teammates with a young group of players around her.

She had the second most free throw attempts in the county this season and made the second most, while her 74 made 3-pointers were the most by nearly 20, while she limited turnovers and had 66 steals defensively to go along with her strong offensive play.

All of that was more than enough to help her bring home the Shelby County Player of the Year award for the third year in a row, but her leadership and ability to help Pelham reach its full potential was the ultimate deciding factor.

That’s what helped Pelham reach the Elite Eight for the second year in a row after last year’s trip to the Final Four, and it’s a big reason the Panthers have now made it to at least the Sweet 16 for three consecutive years.

Raegan Whitaker, an Oak Mountain junior who has started for several years similar to Gogan, earned strong consideration as well after finishing as the county’s leading scorer this season with 18 points per game and an average of 9.8 rebounds per game.

In addition to Whitaker, Briarwood’s Taylor Smith was also a highlight in the county this year as arguably the most improved player. Bought in to help her team achieve history, she averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while she set a new school record for blocks in a season with 64.

Gogan, however, has consistently done it for several years and did it with every defense gunning for her.

She finished her remarkable career with 2,034 points, three consecutive All-State honors, five consecutive All-County nods and three consecutive Player of the Year awards.