JOSEPH — An unprecedented vote resulted in an area basketball standout being selected one of the three best players in the state.
Joseph junior Sabrina Albee, who was instrumental in helping the Eagles girls basketball team to a fifth-place finish at the 1A state tournament, this week was named co-state player of the year along with two other athletes — Crane’s Kelsie Siegner and St. Paul’s Erin Counts. All three were unanimous first-team selections.
“Pretty interesting how it worked out, but it’s also a huge honor that every coach who voted had those three up there,” Joseph head coach Lance Homan said. “Quite an honor for all three for sure.”
Homan said Lynn Cowdrey, who has tabulated the all-state ballots for years, stated having a triple co-player of the year has never happened at the 1A level. Homan said he thinks they indeed are the top players in the state.
“I’ve watched them all play, so I would agree with those three,” he said. “I put them on my ballot. Those three do so much for their individual teams besides just scoring.”
Albee said it was “really cool” to not only be noticed by the rest of the 1A coaches in the state but to be in the same billing with Siegner and Counts.
From a statistical standpoint, Albee had a junior year to remember. The do-everything guard scored 20.3 points per game, and also had 7.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.1 steals per game. She scored 45.8% of the team’s points on the season.
And she also reached two major milestones in scoring. Early in the season, she surpassed the 1,000-point mark in her career, and before the season was done, she had moved past 1,500 career points.
“You have special kids who you have the opportunity to coach — a lot of different ones,” Homan said. “You love them all. Once in a while you get somebody like Sabrina, who just exceeds a lot of the players I’ve coached as far as her ability. Everything she brings is at an extremely high level.”
Basketball — and athletic ability in general — runs in Albee’s veins. Her aunt Kourtney Shreve played for the University of Oregon, and she said her father, fisheries biologist Cameron Albee, was a good basketball player.
She developed a knack for the game early on, and said it was just the sport she gravitated to.
“Every day I’m shooting — I’m losing myself in the game,” she said.
She’s been a three-year starter for Homan, but that comes as no surprise once learning she started for the eighth-grade team — as a sixth-grader.
She’s grown into a player who seems to have limitless range, a high-end basketball IQ and exceptional court vision.
One of the plays that stands out to Homan on her ability to see the court came in the closing seconds of a game at the Old Oregon League District Tournament against Wallowa.
“We were down 1 or tied right at the end, less than 10 seconds, she steals it, gets two people double teaming her and underhanded it to Rylee (Wilcox) for a layup,” Homan said of what proved to be the winning basket in a game that sent the Eagles to the district title game.
She credits her passing ability and court demeanor to what she saw from a former rival.
“When I was a freshman we played against Nixyaawii a couple times and Milan Schimmel, who went on to play in college and the WNBA, was incredible. She made these incredible passes,” Albee said. “She was very nice on the court, and nice to my team. In competition people aren’t (always) nice on the court. You can be good (as a player) but nice at the same time.”
Murray earns honorable mentionOn the boys side, Joseph junior forward Chase Murray was tapped as honorable mention. He helped the Eagles to a berth in the state tournament in Baker City.
“He definitely put in the work and I hope he improves from there,” Joseph boys head coach Olan Fulfer said. “It was a really cool surprise.”
Fulfer said the surprise was due to the fact the Eagles played in just two games at state, but he pointed to Murray’s performance at state and in some early games that may have helped him get recognized.
“Chase had some monster games during preseason and had a great game against South Wasco (in the playoffs) as well,” he said.