ESPNBoston.com and its High Schools section today announce that Ashley Russell, junior guard at Braintree High School, is the recipient of its fourth annual "Miss Basketball" award, given annually to the top female high school player in Massachusetts.
The Miss Basketball Award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff, correspondents and analysts. Russell will be presented with the award at a later date. She joins Reading’s Olivia Healy (2013) and two-time winner Nicole Boudreau of Andover (2011-12) among past recipients in the award’s four-year history.
"We are pleased to present the Miss Basketball award to Ashley Russell," said ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall, who coordinates the site’s basketball coverage. "This Braintree team, with four potential scholarship players in its starting five, is one of the most impressive gatherings of talent to come through Massachusetts in recent memory. But every juggernaut needs a quarterback, and Russell provided that with her contributions in not just one category, but a handful, at both ends of the floor. She best embodies what this award is about."
The 5-foot-10 Russell spearheaded a Wamps squad that was among the state’s stingiest, as they captured their third straight South sectional title and their first MIAA Division 1 State Championship since 2006. The Wamps went wire to wire as the No. 1 team in ESPNBoston.com’s statewide poll in 2013-14, leading the state’s top division in points allowed per game (34.8) and going unbeaten against in-state competition, their lone loss coming to national power Christ The King (N.Y.).
On the season, Russell led the Wamps in nearly every major statistical category, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. One of her more impressive performances came in a win over Lynn English in the Eastern Mass. Final at TD Garden, where she achieved a rare point-less double-double, recording 13 rebounds and 11 assists in spite of a 1-for-10 effort from the field.
"I would encourage any younger female athlete to emulate how Ashley plays the game," Braintree head coach Kristen McDonnell said. "She hasn’t earned accolades by scoring a lot of points, instead she has done it by getting so good at all the little things. She prides herself on how well she plays defense, and how many extra possessions we get because of rebounds or hustle plays. Her impact can’t be quantified by looking at a stat sheet. She does everything for us."
Earlier this month, Russell was named the Bay State Conference’s Most Valuable Player, as well as the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year. She is currently undecided on college plans.
"Ashley is the consummate team player," McDonnell said. "What makes her so special is that she cares more about our team’s success than her own, and because of that she’ll do anything necessary to help us win. She’ll hit the big shot, make the hustle play, or grab the big rebound, whatever we need to do to win. This recognition is a tribute to her natural talent, relentless work ethic, and high character. Ashley is the poster child for what happens when you work hard at something. She is a coach’s dream."