There’s plenty of statistical evidence to confirm Cony High School senior Josie Lee as one of the best basketball players in the state.
She averaged 15.6 points and 5.2 assists a game in the Class A division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. More impressive is the fact she led the KVAC’s southern division in rebounding at 10.4 a game despite standing just 5-foot-7 and weighing 125 pounds.
But statistics don’t do justice to Lee’s value to the team. As the only senior on one of the shortest Class A teams in the state, Lee played every position on the floor, set the standard on defense and led the Rams to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game.
“It’s her heart, her desire, just her passion to play and love it,” Cony coach Karen Magnusson said. “She just did a remarkable job to keep the girls focused and want it as bad as she does.”
For her efforts, Lee has been named the Kennebec Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Richmond’s Jamie Plummer and Erskine Academy’s Bridget Humphrey were also considered.
Lee had capable teammates around her, several capable of scoring or rebounding in double figures. But she was the glue that held the team together and the player her teammates looked to in key situations.
Lee played a key role in many of the upsets the Rams pulled off, including two wins over top-ranked Edward Little. The first came in the regular season when they nipped the Red Eddies 60-59 and entered the Class A tournament picture. Lee scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but her most important play of the game came on defense when she drew an offensive foul against EL scoring star Ashlee Arnold with four seconds left to play.
“For defense, it’s hustle and desire,” Lee said.
Magnusson said there were games when Lee did score much but dished out assists or grabbed rebounds.
“There were games where she maybe scored four points and she did not care,” Magnusson said. “She knew that was what we needed. She’s the most unselfish player.”
Cony won nine of its last 12 games, eventually losing to Bangor in the Eastern Maine championship game to finish at 14-8. They squeaked into the tournament by beating Brewer in a prelim game, then won a pair of games against top-seeded Edward Little and No. 4 Lawrence.
Against Edward Little, Lee scored 16 points and hauled down 18 rebounds. She may have been even better against Lawrence as she scored 21 points, 14 in the second half, and guarded high-scoring Lawrence center Nia Irving for much of the game, holding her to 14 points.
“She’s probably one of the most versatile players to ever come through Cony,” Magnusson said. “She did absolutely everything for us.”
Magnusson called Lee the best guard defender in the state,
“Anyone who saw her play in the right position would have known that,” she said.
Lee will play a guard position next year when she attends Tufts University. Lee, who was No. 1 in her class at the beginning of he school year, plans to major in biology and go into the medical field. She had a chance to scrimmage with the Jumbos during a campus visit.
“I felt like I fit in pretty well,” she said. “I should be able to get used to it. I definitely don’t see myself as a post (player) again.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638