Seoul's tough, talented Gleaves chosen Stars and Stripes DODDS Pacific girls basketball Player of the Year
When people speak of Liz Gleaves, they talk mainly of her other-worldly ability to leap, elbow-high over the net to spike a volleyball, corner-to-corner coverage of soccer nets as a goalkeeper and jumping over opponents to retrieve a lost basketball.
What they don’t speak of much, Seoul American girls basketball coach Billy Ratcliff says, is the 5-foot-4 senior’s toughness.
Take last week’s Far East Division I Tournament on Guam, for example. On Day 1 at Naval Base’s Charles King Fitness & Sports Center, she fractured her left middle finger and played the rest of the tournament with it taped to her ring finger.
“Without griping about it one time,” said Ratcliff after his Falcons won their second straight D-I title and Gleaves her second straight Most Outstanding Player award.
She and the Falcons went 27-2 this season and have gone 108-14 in her four years on Seoul American’s varsity.
They’ve won four of their 19 straight Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference D-I regular-season and tournament titles and made four appearances in the Far East D-I final with No. 5 in the lineup.
For all that, Gleaves has been chosen Stars and Stripes DODDS Pacific girls basketball Player of the Year.
It’s more than Gleaves’ ability to beat an opponent from the perimeter or drive the lane or jump in front of an opponent to get a crucial steal or leap high for a seemingly impossible rebound, Ratcliff said.
“A lot of her points come from sheer intimidation on defense,” he said. That ability, he said, makes opponents nervous enough to throw the ball to a Gleaves teammate for a steal, or alter their shot so drastically that somebody else might get a rebound off an air ball because her leaping ability threw the shooter off kilter.
“As a result, she won’t get the steal or rebound, but she causes opponents to alter their games because of her pressure.”
Also as a result, the Falcons have won an unprecedented four straight D-I titles in three girls sports dating back to last school year, with Gleaves earning MVP awards in all four tournaments.
“Awesome,” Gleaves said when asked how she felt about capturing four consecutive MVP awards.
Ratcliff coached her for three of those seasons in basketball and soccer, “and I will miss her dearly as she is the best athlete, male or female, that I have ever had the privilege of coaching.”
The All-Stars ...Erika Ettl, Jr., PG, Yokota Panthers, Japan. 17 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists per game for a Panthers (30-6), who went from 14th to third place in Far East Division I tournament. Won Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, DODDS Japan regular-season and tournament titles. 4.14 weighted GPA. "Poster girl for DODEA’s goal of highest possible student achievement in all regards," principal Darrell Mood said.
Jen Black, Jr., PG, Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Japan. 10.7 points, 1.5 assists per game for team that went 13-14 overall and 7-7 in DODDS Japan, finishing seventh in the Far East Division II Tournament. Known best for relentless quickness and refusal to come out of games to rest. "She always gave a 110 percent effort. … Her determination and drive pushed her teammates to step up and play harder," coach Sarah Richardson said.
Jordan Elliott, Sr., PG, Seoul American Falcons. 9.3 points, 3.3 assists, 3.6 steals, 49-percent FG, 64-percent FT (83 percent in Far East D-I tournament). Helped Falcons to 27-2 record, 19th straight Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference D-I season and tournament title, second straight Far East D-I title and fourth in seven years. "She has the ability to make players around her perform better and harder," coach Billy Ratcliff said.
Liz Gleaves, Sr., SG-SF, Seoul American Falcons. 12.4 points, 3.3 assists, 4.2 steals per game, 58-percent FG inside the arc, 71-percent FT, 41-percent three-pointers. Helped Falcons to 27-2 record, 19th straight KAIAC Division I season and tournament title, second straight Far East D-I title and fourth in seven years. Named Far East D-I tournament Most Outstanding Player for second straight year. "She is the best athlete, male or female, that I have ever had the privilege of coaching," Ratcliff said.
Kristina Bergman, Sr., C, Daegu American Warriors, South Korea. 12.5 points, 8.9 rebounds per game. Led Warriors to 25-12 record, third in KAIAC Division I regular season and second in KAIAC D-I Tournament, Far East D-II tournament runner-up finish. Named Far East D-II tournament Most Valuable Player, top gun and top rebounder. "Her skills and dedication have attributed to the success of Daegu’s girls’ athletic programs over the past years," coach Michelle Chandler said.
Selected by Stars and Stripes staff