Chelsea’s Haley Trotter wins Shelby County Player of the Year

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

For each of the last three years, the Shelby County Player of the Year went to former Pelham star Laci Gogan as she fueled the Panthers dominance with her exceptional performances.

But with Gogan gone, that left a void at the beginning of the season atop the mountain, and one of the biggest questions was who would take her spot.

As the season progressed, it became clear who would take over the mantle.

Haley Trotter is the new Shelby County Player of the Year after taking the Chelsea Hornets to new heights in the 2023-24 season.

Trotter was not a new face to many in the county after making the All-County First Team last season as a sophomore while averaging 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

However, with the Hornets facing the loss of a pair of All-County forwards in Sophia Brown and Madison Moore, Trotter had to step up into even more of a central role as an upperclassman.

She accepted the challenge and helped Chelsea have one of its greatest seasons in history.

Trotter became the player all of the Hornets offense flowed through as she improved her scoring average by seven points to 18.5 points per game, which was the second-highest in the county.

After nearly averaging a double-double in her sophomore season, she got over the hump in 2023-24, averaging 10.5 rebounds per game. Her presence down low on both offense and defense was one of the best in the county, as evidenced by her 325 rebounds, which were tied for the most in the county.

On top of that, she improved her blocks and steals totals to 52 blocks and 78 steals, demonstrating her effectiveness on defense as part of coach Jason Harlow’s high-intensity defensive unit.

Those numbers played a key role in Chelsea’s successful year where the Hornets improved on last season’s Sweet 16 run to make even more history.

Chelsea reached the Elite Eight for the first time as a Class 7A school and just the third time in any classification. In the process, the Hornets went 26-6 against a tough 7A schedule and finished runner-up in the area regular season and tournament.

Trotter elevated the players around her as she created opportunities for Sadie Schwallie and Caroline Brown, who often returned the favor and created a “Big Three” for Chelsea, as well as Olivia Pryor as the freshman had breakout performances down the stretch.

She had big nights in the Hornets’ key games, including 31 points in the area semifinals against Oak Mountain to clinch a spot in regionals and 19 points and 18 rebounds in a double-double against Sparkman in the Sweet 16, the same team that Chelsea lost to in that round in 2023.

After those postseason performances, Trotter’s star power couldn’t be denied by anyone watching, including Harlow.

“I think Haley Trotter is one of the best players in the state,” Harlow said after the Sweet 16 win over Sparkman. “I know she is one of the best kept secrets in the state. To watch her go out and perform on this stage, I see it a lot, but I’m glad other people got to see how good of a player she is and her stepping up in that scenario.”

Trotter had tight competition in the Player of the Year race from Pelham’s backcourt duo of Tee King and Karma Wynn, but her consistent excellence throughout the season against the top players in the state and on the biggest stages made her undeniable.

What’s more, Trotter will be back for her senior season next year as the Hornets move down to Class 6A. After the leaps she made from her sophomore to junior year, the sky’s the limit for one of the brightest young talents in the state.

But for now, she stands atop the mountain as the new Shelby County Player of the Year.