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Brazeel gets to free-throw line frequently, earns Player of the Year honors
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In the biggest win of the season, Yuma Catholic junior point guard Madison Brazeel did what she does best.
She got to the free-throw line.
In a 64-50 overtime win over previously unbeaten Salome, Brazeel went 15 for 24 from the free-throw line and scored 30 points in a crucial late-season victory.
More often than not, when the Shamrocks' offense broke down, coach Bob McGalliard could rely on the driving ability of Brazeel, who is the 2012-2013 Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Girls Basketball Player of the Year. This is evident by the 250 free throws — more than 10 a game — the junior attempted on the season.
“That tells you she's going to the basket,” McGalliard said. “Whenever our offense would break down, Madison would get inside and get to the free-throw line. Madison would just put the ball on the floor and get to the rim.”
The number of attempts put her second in the state and helped her average 20.8 points per game — which was second at Division IV and fourth in the state at all levels.
However, there is a difficult line that Brazeel must walk as a scoring point guard: when it's time to distribute and when it's time to put the team on her back.
“She's definitely a scoring point guard and what I thought happened this year, as opposed to last year — last year we had four different players lead us in scoring at various times, and Makena (Zamora) and Madison were neck-and-neck on who was our leading scorer. I don't even remember who led us because it was so close it didn't matter,” McGalliard said of Brazeel (11.8 points last year) and Zamora (11.4). “I think this year Madison had to bring more of the scoring mode.”
“I count on my team and know that they can do it, so I never stress to myself that I have to score. It's more of who can score and how can we score,” said Brazeel, who also averaged nearly four assists and more than two steals a game for the Shamrocks.
Considering her 5-foot-6 frame isn't the best to absorb the fouls that come with driving to the basket, there were plenty of times — like at Tonopah when she got decked into some chairs — that McGalliard worried about his star point guard taking some hard fouls.
“I saw a couple times where I got a little worried because she went down hard,” McGalliard said. “But never once did she not bounce back up and play hard.”
McGalliard said that when it comes to effort on the court, Brazeel not only talks the talk but walks the walk. He compares her to Kobe Bryant, saying that even if his teammates aren't as talented as he is, he expects maximum effort every night, every play and every practice and that Brazeel expects that out of her teammates.
“It's everything that she does for her team,” McGalliard said. “There's not one player — without Mary Terkelsen, without Makena Zamora, without Darci McAllister, without Stephanie Vandervoort, we're not going to be who we are — but the person who brings it all together is Madison. She makes sure every time she shows up at practice.”
After leading the Shamrocks to the state tournament two years in a row, Brazeel freely admits there's plenty to work on — using her left hand and perfecting her free throws. But this season, Brazeel picked the spots for when she needed to take over the game and when she needed to distribute.
“There was no question that she was the reason where we were this season,” McGalliard said. “She was the most important person for us to get where we wanted to get. This year, I didn't think there was any question that for what she did for her team and everything, she could be called the best player in the area.”
And for McGalliard, it certainly is nice to have a player to turn to when all else fails.
“When it broke down, No. 15 would come and get the ball and go to the rim.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.