ELYRIA — It didn’t hurt that her aunt was a veteran basketball coach. It definitely helped that she started playing the game in elementary school. And it was a big plus that she comes from a sports-focused family.
All the assets — athletic ability, academic excellence and college basketball potential — came together for Vermilion’s AuBree LaForce on Tuesday night when she was honored as Lorain County Miss Basketball at Elyria High. Lorain’s Alexandria Harris received special mention.
LaForce, who this season became the school’s career scoring leader with 1,199 points, is the third Vermilion player to win the award. She joins Renee Aggers (1990) and Kristi Littleton (1996) as the county’s top senior basketball player.
The 5-foot-2 dynamo received a plaque between games of the Lorain County Girls Basketball Coaches Association’s annual All-Star doubleheader. It was presented by Gregory Finton of Elyria Coca-Cola, which has sponsored the award for 27 seasons.
“This has been a goal of mine since I was little,” LaForce said. “My senior year was great. I had to adjust to a new coach (Colin Irish) and my teammates did an awesome job of adapting to his ways.
I wouldn’t be where I am in my career or with my scoring without my teammates.”
The award capped what has been a big year for the LaForce family.
AuBree’s brother, Jack, was a linebacker on Mount Union’s national champion football team, and her sister, Allie, was hired by CBS television in Los Angeles in October. Allie, who played basketball at Vermilion and Ohio University, will do sideline work for CBS at the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky., later this week.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” AuBree said when asked if she was surprised by the award. “My coach told me that he nominated me, but there are so many good players in Lorain County that I was just hoping for the best. It means so much that I got this.”
LaForce plans to play in college next season, but is undecided as to where. She has narrowed her choices to Denison, Mount Union and Case Western Reserve.
She averaged 16.7 points a game, nearly four rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 steals this season. She attracted attention when she averaged nearly six points and three rebounds as a freshman. Then she improved to 13.9 points and four assists as a sophomore and 17.9 points, 3.3 boards and four assists her junior season.
“It’s been a real pleasure to coach her,” Irish said, “but this is just a reflection on how hard she has worked. I figured she had a shot at it because of what she does on and off the court, her grades and the whole package.”
LaForce has a 4.3 grade-point average, which ranks second in her class.
“She has great potential,” Irish added. “When she gets to college, she’s going to concentrate on only one sport and she will get that much better. Everybody says she’s so small. But she’s a very good player and she’s going to be an asset wherever she decides to go.”
In the crowd were her parents, Lisa and Wade LaForce; her aunt, Connie Rummell; and friends of the family, among others.
“What a year this has been,” Lisa LaForce said. “We’re so pumped. But what a blessed year for us. And, hey, we’re only in March.”
“I pinch myself, we’re so very, very fortunate,” Wade LaForce said. “I don’t know how you could wish for anything better. You raise the kids and pray they do the right things, but I’m so fortunate the kids have gone in the right direction.”
Rummell was a multisport coach, holding posts at Elyria Catholic, Avon, Buckeye and Vermilion. She said she took AuBree with her to varsity practices when she was very young.
“She was beside me in a (stroller) in the EC gym when I coached there,” Rummell said. “She went to all my open gyms when I was at Buckeye. My Buckeye girls hated to see her come because she would race them. And any time I had her do anything with a ball, it was with two balls — left and right. This is a proud moment for me.”
Bob Walsh, whose legendary coaching career continues as an assistant with the Elyria High girls team, was inducted into the coaches association Hall of Fame. He was honored between games.
Walsh won 643 games and two state championships — at Clearview and Oberlin — in his 42 years as a boys head coach. He is the only person to have coached both Elyria and Elyria Catholic.
Miss Basketball winners
- 2013 – AuBree LaForce, Vermilion
- 2012 – Emily Julius, Avon
- 2011 – Shanique Ogle, Lorain
- 2010 – Emily Nagle, Columbia
- 2009 – Tai Dotson, Elyria
- 2008 – Honesty King, Elyria
- 2007 – Ali Stack, Firelands
- 2006 – Audra Mihalic, Amherst
- 2005 – Kate Verhoff, Elyria
- 2004 – Holly Earl, Clearview
- 2003 – Christina Jackson, Southview
- 2002 – Lisa Verhoff, Elyria
- 2001 – Anetra Williams, Admiral King
- 2000 – Jessy Verhoff, Elyria
- 1999 – Holly Koepp, Lorain Catholic, and Layla Willis, Clearview
- 1998 – Monique Ross, Midview
- 1997 – Tyshekwa Madison, Elyria, and Rebecca Sandor, Avon Lake
- 1996 – Kristi Littleton, Vermilion
- 1995 – Megan Chewanski, Avon Lake
- 1994 – Stacey Fifer, Avon Lake
- 1993 – Beth Becker, Firelands
- 1992 – Sherri Horvath, Lorain
- 1991 – Kyle Lathwell, Lorain
- 1990 – Renee Aggers, Vermilion
- 1989 – Monica Taylor, Elyria
- 1998 – Anne Forbes, Elyria West, and Chris Nagy, Lorain
- 1987 – Anita Godlewski, Lorain Catholic
- 1986 – Ann Gilbert, Elyria
- 1985 – Amy Welch, Elyria West
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.