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BC-BKH--Division 1 All-State Girls,1st Ld-Writethru

April 4, 2019
The Macomb Daily

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Julia Ayrault never lost sight of her teammates.

The Michigan State recruit left a legacy of inclusiveness during a four-year career at Grosse Pointe North.

Ayrault set a slew of school scoring records, but it was her willingness to share the basketball that set her apart, her coach said.

“Julia was welcoming to everyone on the team,” coach Gary Bennett said after learning that Ayrault was voted by a statewide panel of 11 sportswriters as The Associated Press Division 1 girls basketball Player of the Year. “She was an excellent teammate.

“She was very inclusive in her passing,” Bennett said. “She has always been a really good passer. She would always try to find the open person, and she had trust in her teammates. It made everyone feel good to be on the receiving end of passes from Julia.

“She really cares about everyone on the team and wants them to feel like they’re part of it.”

Ayrault averaged 20 points, nine rebounds and 3.4 assists this season. The 6-foot-2 wing helped the Norsemen go 10-0 in the Red, the top division of the Macomb Area Conference, and 20-4 overall, including a third consecutive district championship.

Playing for a program that won the state Class A championship in 2008 with Notre Dame recruit Ariel Braker, Ayrault set the career scoring record with 1,628 points.

She scored a single-season record of 497 points as a junior, and her 20 points per game this season was the highest average in Norsemen history.

She made 4.4 steals per game this season and took a school-record 208 defensive rebounds.

Ayrault scored in a variety of ways, but the pull-up jumper might have been her signature shot.

It was a weapon she refined through hours of practice, Bennett said.

“It turned out to be a good thing for her,” Bennett said. “In her first year, she didn’t have that shot. I think it was a matter of her realizing what a weapon it could be. She got better at it, and this year she took it to a whole different level.

“With her size, the pull-up shot in the lane is a difficult shot to stop. It made a big difference for her and for us as a team.”

Ayrault was one of 10 players voted to the AP All-State team.

The list included senior Moira Joiner of state champion Saginaw Heritage plus two players from state runner-up Southfield A&T, senior Alexis Johnson and junior Cheyenne McEvans.

Others selected were junior Aaliyah Nye of East Lansing and seniors Molly Davis of Midland Dow, Del’Janae Williams of Detroit King, Destiny Strother of Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Alyza Winston of Muskegon and Jeanae Terry of Wayne Memorial.

Don Palmer of Hartland was voted Coach of the Year.