Amari DeBerry made history again.
The University of Connecticut commit and Sister Maria Pares Buffalo News Player of the Year became the first Williamsville South girls basketball player to earn the New York State Sportswriters Player of the Year honor.
DeBerry, a 6-foot-5 junior, earned the distinction in Class A after a season in which she helped the Billies post a 20-3 record, win the overall Section VI Class A championship and earn the No. 1 ranking in the final state poll. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DeBerry, a three-time first team All-WNY selection and the first Williamsville South Billie to earn the Sister Maria Pares honor, averaged a double-double, increasing her points per game average by 4.2 and increasing her rebounds by 2.0 over last season. Although she missed two games because of injury, she finished with averages of 21.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.8 blocks and 3.6 assists.
DeBerry found out she earned state player of the year when contacted by The News.
“That’s good news,” she said. “It’s just nice to know people think highly of me and how I play. My teammates help make everything happen on the court.”
DeBerry isn’t the only Western New Yorker to earn all-state honors. She also isn’t the only one to earn the state’s top honor, as Panama senior Natalie Angeletti earned Player of the Year honors in Class D. The sixth-year Panther and second team All-Western New York selection will go to Daemen College in the fall.
Angeletti is believed to be the first girls basketball player at Panama to earn state Player of the Year honors.
"I think it's so cool that I was able to do that," she said. "I couldn't have done that without my teammates or coaches. ... It's not just for me, it's for the whole community."
Angeletti earned Player of the Year honors after guiding Panama to a 20-2 mark, the Section VI championship and a No. 2 ranking in the final state poll. She averaged a double-double, 16.5 points and 12.7 rebounds, along with 3.0 steals. The 6-footer helped Panama win four Section VI titles in her career and will graduate as the school’s all-time leading scorer (male or female) with 1,751 points.
"I'm so excited, I can't believe it," Angeletti said. "I think it helps out with everything that's happening right now (pandemic, etc.). It's good news to hear. I'm super excited and super blessed."
Other Western New York players earning first-team all-state honors are: Siobhan Ryan of Sacred Heart (Class A), Kyra Wood of City Honors (Class B), Danielle Haskell of Franklinville (Class C) – the second all-time leading scorer in state history – Claire Pikett of Holland (Class C) and Kylie Schnars of Panama (Class D).
Others who earned an all-state spot in Class A were Grand Island's Lydia Sweeney (second team), Amherst's Ella Wanzer (third team), Williamsville South's Hannah Dolan (sixth team) and Gretchen Dolan (seventh team), Hamburg's Claire Strock (ninth team), Hutch-Tech's Cortinea Smith (10th team), Lake Shore's Jadyn Jones (11th team), Lew-Port's Claire Skowronski (12th team), Emerson's Jayda Smith (14th team) and Amherst's Emma Klein (15th team).
First team All-WNY picks Aaliyah Parker of Cardinal O'Hara and Shay Ciezki of St. Mary's were among the area players to land a spot on the state's Class AA team. Parker, a junior who has committed to Niagara, earned fourth-team all-state and isn't the only Hawk to earn all-state. Junior teammate and Long Island University-commit Amelia Strong earned all-state sixth team. O'Hara junior Mia McCarthy earned 11th-team honors.
Ciezki, a sophomore and two-time All-WNY first team pick, earned all-state fifth team. Claire Kiener of Clarence landed on the eighth team, while Lily Flannery of Orchard Park earned 10th-team honors. Williamsville North's Marcie Colca earned 12th-team laurels and Lockport's Camri King captured a spot on the 13th-team.
In Class B, Dunkirk's Kymi Nance earned second-tean laurels. Iroquois' Logan Streety garnered third-team honors and Dunkirk's Nadara O'Dell earned fourth-team honors. Others were Southwestern's Gianna Hoose (sixth team), Iroquois' Emily McLaughlin (seventh team), Olmsted's Gabrielle McDuffie (10th team), Depew's Kaylee Krysztof (12th team), Springville's Mackenzie Owens (14th team), Maryvale's Christie McGee-Ross (14th team), Dunkirk's Jessica Beehler (15th team) and City Honors' Desmonique Veal (15th team).
Class C selections were Holland's Myla Kline (second team), Portville's Karly Welty (fourth team), Randolph's Sydney Hvizdak (fourth team), Chautauqua Lake Lilly Woodis (sixth team), Franklinville's Abby McCoy (sixth team), Silver Creek's Abby Rice (eighth team) and Maple Grove's Bre Hill (10th team).
In Class D, Panama's Mandy Brink (third team) and Sherman's Carrie Sands (fifth team) were chosen.
Honorable mention selections were: Buffalo Seminary's Lilly Johnsen (Class B), Dunkirk's Olivia Smith (Class B), Eden's Brooke Woodard (Class B) and Jessica Zittel (Class B), East Aurora's Haley Potenza (Class B), Hamburg's Maddy Harrison (Class A) and Sophie Snyder (Class A), Lew-Port's Sophie Auer (Class A), Ainsley Boras (Nardin), Orchard Park's Madison Stevenson (Class AA), Sacred Heart's Morgan Giancaterino (Class A), St. Mary's Lauren Nawojski and Sydney Ottomano (Class AA), Sherman's MacKenzie Gratto (Class D), Williamsville North's Courtney Herlan (Class AA) and Wilson's Izzy Dinse (Class B).