Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pioneers Co-Players of the Year Redefined Girls Basketball in St. Louis Prep Circles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pioneers Co-Players of the Year Redefined Girls Basketball in St. Louis Prep Circles

Article excerpt

LaShonda Albert is a slashing drive through the lane. A no-look pass. A sweet 3-pointer.

Kristin Folkl is a soaring jump for a rebound high above a crowd. The constant threat of a dunk (done it in practice, not in a game). A quick, pinpoint pass back out to an open teammate.

The last four years, they helped transform St. Louis girls basketball into a hotbed. They epitomized talent and character, winning with grace, but always winning. They became role models for young girls, examples for everyone of what can be so right in sports, a standard of excellence future players can chase.

They gained admiration for themselves, their teams, their schools. Their game.

As a fitting close to two brilliant high school athletic careers, Albert of Wellston and Folkl of St. Joseph's Academy share the Post-Dispatch girls basketball Player of the Year honor.

Certainly, others could hold a piece of the honor as well. Folkl's teammates Mollie Peirick and Carri Walker completed stellar careers this season, will move on to major-college ball and should continue making an impact. Okawville's Michelle Hasheider led her team to an Illinois schampionship. They and others have established this area as a must stop for recruiters.

But the marks left by Folkl and Albert should outlast them all.

"Hopefully," Folkl said, "we've helped elevate the level of play. High school girls basketball is ready for that jump. When we started playing in high school, a lot of times girls didn't play with that real intensity.

"That's what I'd like to think we have done, given the game an intensity."

They seem as different as spring from autumn. Each holds unique charms, but externally, there can be no confusing one with the other.

Albert primarily handles the ball on a court as a combination guard and forward. She astounds with her quickness, nimble moves, athletic twists and turns. Her 6-foot-1 frame looks skinny, sleek.

"I was impressed by her speed," Folkl said. "She can shoot, but she has a great first step when she drives for the basket. I wish I had that step. I kind of had to re-evaluate how I wanted to play her."

Folkl generally catches the ball close to the basket, where, as a center-forward, she took hundreds of passes from Peirick and grabbed more than 1,000 high school rebounds. Her quickness proves marvelous as well, but Folkl's athletic gifts rest more in her power - the explosive leaps for rebounds, the dynamic drives along a baseline. Her 6-2 frame shows a strength few girls can match.

"She's bigger than I thought she would be," Albert said. "The way she can jump - that's tough to stop." Contrasting Styles

Albert attends Eskridge High in Wellston. The coed school sits in an urban neighborhood of modest means. With about 250 students, the school competes in Class 2A in Missouri athletics, and the girls program only recently has nurtured statewide success. When the Trojanettes won this season's 2A girls basketball title, it was the school's first state championship in any girls sport.

Folkl attends St. Joseph's Academy. The enrollment is nearly 600 - all girls. The private school, nestled on a green campus shaded by a mini grove of trees, is just south on Lindbergh Boulevard of the upscale Frontenac Plaza. Folkl led St. Joe's to four state volleyball championships in Class 4A - Missouri's large-school class - and this season picked up her fourth 4A state basketball title. But the Angels also have claimed state titles in tennis, golf, soccer and swimming. …

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