Veroneau wins Miss Maine Basketball
BANGOR—Entering the season, Waynflete senior Martha Veroneau was largely a well-kept Portland secret, a star playing in a quirky gym on Spring Street, but underappreciated elsewhere.
Now, she's a statewide phenomenon.
Six days removed from leading the Flyers to their first Class C girls' basketball championship in thrilling, come-from-behind fashion, Veroneau received the highest honor a senior player can attain when she was named the 2013 Miss Maine Basketball winner at the Maine McDonald's High School Senior All-Star Basketball awards banquet at Husson University Friday night.
"It's such a great feeling," said Veroneau. "I was kind of in shock. Everything's come together the past week. Winning the Gold Ball, being a (Miss Maine) finalist. This is the cherry on top. Winning Miss Maine is the highest honor. It's great to know that all the hard work I've put into being the best player I can be has paid off. I have to keep pinching myself."
Veroneau was selected over fellow finalists Kristen Anderson of Leavitt and Class B state game hero Chandler Guerrette of Presque Isle.
"I thought my chances were 33.3 percent," said Veroneau, showing she's proficient in math, as well as basketball. "I was up there with two great athletes, outstanding players. Listening to their career stats, they've had such tremendous careers."
The award is presented each year to the senior player who has exhibited outstanding skills throughout her career, has made a significant impact on her team, has demonstrated respect for the game through leadership on and off the court, has epitomized the values of sportsmanship and has been a positive school and community citizen, a description which fits Veroneau to a T.
"This is the highest individual award presented to a player in the state," said Peter Murray, president of the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches. "It's awarded for commitment, dedication and excellence throughout the player's high school career."
Veroneau broke the 1,000 career point barrier in her second game this winter, later eclipsed older sister Margaret's program scoring record, was named the Western C tournament's most valuable player/sportsperson for a second straight year and wound up 1,465 career points, after scoring 34, including her team's final 16, in last Saturday's 59-55 win over Calais in the state game.
Veroneau, a 5-foot-7 guard, averaged 19.8 points in the regular season and also had 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Veroenau holds the Western C tournament records for points in a game (47) and 3-pointers made in a game (nine).
As the season went on, Veroneau became more of a household name and while she consistently and genuinely deflected praise to her teammates and coaches, Veroneau's greatness was evident for all to see on the big stages at Augusta and Bangor, raising her profile and her chances of being honored.
"Martha's a once-in-a-lifetime player," said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. "She's a great leader. She shined the brightest with the money on the table. That's a testament to her work ethic. Her skill and offensive prowess were unmatched, but her heart put her over the top."
Veroneau's twin sister, Catherine, older by 10 minutes, was also honored Friday, being named to the Academic All-State Team.
Catherine and Margaret Veroneau, freshman teammate and sister Anne Veroneau, along with parents Vin and Nancy, were singled out by the new Miss Maine Basketball during her speech, in which she also credited Salway and Waynflete athletic director Ross Burdick for playing big roles in her success.
"It's so much nicer (getting this award) with the people I'm able to celebrate with," Veroneau said. "My Mom and Dad were always there to support me. It was great to have two sisters on the team. Having Brandon and whole, entire Waynflete community has been incredible. I won the award, but I wouldn't have been able to get it without all the support I've had."
Margaret Veroneau drove through a Boston blizzard Friday to be in attendance and was singled out by her younger sister.
"Having Margaret here, somebody I idolized as a kid, means so much," Veroneau said. "She keeps telling me, 'I taught you everything you know. Give me some credit!' She definitely taught me how to play basketball and have that drive and never give up."
Veroneau, who is also a lacrosse standout (she was Waynflete's Spring Female Athlete of the Year after playing an enormous role in a Flyers state title last season) and a top cross country runner, will attend Boston College next year, where she plans to study nursing.
Garet Beal, of Jonseport-Beals, was named Mr. Maine Basketball.
In addition to recognizing all the Senior All-Stars, several other awards were bestowed, including a media award to longtime Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram writer Mike Lowe.