SOUTH WEBSTER — South Webster’s Bri Claxon simply started out as an alternate.
But, most times, it’s indeed not about how you start — but instead it’s about how you finish.
And, for the Gannon University-bound and District 14 Coaches Association Division IV Player of the Year, her final high school basketball game —thanks to her stellar final quarter —concluded with her winning the Most Valuable Player honor.
That’s because Claxon, competing for the South squad as a participant in the prestigious Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Senior North-South all-star games on April 22, captured the MVP accolade for the Division III-IV contest — after pouring in a game-high 26 points, including 16 in the decisive fourth quarter.
In other words, among the top girls Division III and IV players in the entire state, Claxon more than well-represented South Webster —and District 14 which covers all dozen schools in Scioto County.
Claxon’s claiming of the District 14 Coaches Association Division IV POY was one of her handful of postseason plaques and trophies —which also included all-Ohio first-team honors from the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association.
She automatically made that by way of winning the Division IV Southeast District POY —as awarded annually by OPSWA and no longer the Associated Press.
The OPSWA all-district awards span both District 14 AND District 13 —which include the likes of Lawrence County, Gallia County and Meigs County.
But back to the game, and how Claxon got there, is quite unique —or is it for a Jeep of the past and present?
That’s because Brett Roberts, the current SWHS principal and alternate to the same game on the boys side in 1988, also won the MVP award.
For Claxon, she was the North-South alternate because of the selection of Allison Basye —the Huntington star and the District 14 Division III POY.
Bayse was also chosen as the OHSBCA’s top Division III player, as only one senior from each district — whether it be Division III OR IV — can be named to play in the North-South game.
The District 14 is also represented by a Division II honoree.
However, Claxon said she soon found out —despite her original alternate status — that efforts were underway to allow her to compete, although she ended up replacing another all-star selection.
“(SWHS) Coach (Ryan) Dutiel said that even though I was an alternate, they were going to try and let me play. So soon after the awards were released, I was told I could play,” said Claxon. “Not sure who I replaced.”
In the end, it didn’t matter — because Claxon connected on jump shots and three-pointers, and went off for her 26 points.
All but 10 came in the final eight minutes, and none of her markers came from the free-throw line —where she seldom misses.
Truth be told, the now former Lady Jeep has one of the smoothest jumpers for ANY high school basketball player —female or male.
“I loved it. My thought was to just go out and have some fun and just show people I can play with the girls who are good,” said Claxon. “It was really fun to get the chance to play with a bunch of very skilled players. I had a really good experience. In the first half, I wasn’t doing bad, but I just didn’t have as many opportunities to score. The second half, I just found some ways to score and things really started going my way, especially in the fourth quarter. They were giving me some space on offense, so I just took advantage of that space. Honestly, once I got comfortable playing, I just had fun and things went well.”
Like her Lady Jeep career in a nutshell.
In her final game at South Webster, she broke her own single-game scoring record —amassing 44 points in the Lady Jeeps’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II makeup matchup against Waverly.
Those 44 gave her 665 points for her senior season — as she also established a new SWHS record for most points in a single campaign.
Claxon concluded her decorated South Webster career as the second all-time leading scorer in Lady Jeeps’ history, finishing with 1,859 career points —trailing only the legendary Kayla Cook, who amounted 2,165 points over her four years.
Claxon could score at will at times — and averaged 26.3 points per game, as her all-state (OPSWA) selection was her third and final.
She averaged 25.7 points per tilt as a junior, a jump of exactly seven from her 18.7 points per bout as a sophomore.
She was third-team all-Ohio in 2020, a second-teamer in 2021, and finally first team all-state in her senior year.
“I feel very blessed to have a lot of God-given athletic ability, but am also proud because I put in the work so I can do well on the court,”said Claxon. “Only a few girls in the state get picked (all-Ohio first-team), so I am just grateful I was one of them.”
And, even fewer are awarded MVP honors of the North-South Classic, which is indeed exactly how Claxon concluded her Jeep career.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved