RED BUD — Ali of the Red Bud Musketeers' opponents this season had a singular goal: Stop senior guard Ali Ringering.
"You shut down Ali Ringering and you're probably going to win,'' Red Bud coach Janelle Pfeiffer said. "We played 26 games, and in 21 of the 26, we saw either a box-and-one or a triangle-and-two with two people on her. We saw some of sort of gimmick defense in most of our games, and for her to average what she did was truly incredible.''
Ringering, who despite all the extra attention still managed to lead the St. Louis area in scoring with an average of 27.9 points per game, has been chosen as the Belleville News-Democrat's Class 1A-2A Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
She beat out Central sophomore Kendra Wilken for the honor.
"It definitely got pretty frustrating at times, but it was no surprise,'' Ringering said. "It was more surprising when we didn't see a gimmick defense. I was fairly well-prepared. I know Coach Pfeiffer spent a lot of time looking for different offenses and she tried different things. Eventually, we kind of got to the point where we found what worked and what didn't. It wasn't easy to get shots off, but I found ways. And when I didn't, I tried to find my teammates.''
The 5-foot-8 Ringering also averaged 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.2 steals per game.
Pfeiffer said Ringering cared more about team accomplishments than any individual accolades. She was a member of one regional championship squad -- 2012-13 season when the Musketeers advanced to the sectional championship before losing to eventual Class 2A state champion Nashville -- in her four years.
"I think what makes her so special, and I've said this for every article and at our sports banquet last week, the caliber of player that she is, she has every right to be selfish and kind of say, 'Look at me,''' Pfeiffer said. "She's the complete opposite of that. She would trade every individual accomplishment to have three more regional (plagues) hanging up at our school.''
Ringering, 17, is a gym rat who grew up in a sports-minded family. Her mom, Mary, coached volleyball for many years, and her dad, Tony, is the girls basketball coach and athletic director at Red Bud Junior High School.
"I started playing organized ball in the fourth grade, but I grew up in a gym,'' Ringering said. "I know people who have said, 'I can remember when you couldn't even walk and you were crawling after balls in the gym.'''
Ringering was a three-sport standout for the Musketeers. She was a setter for the volleyball team and she is the shortstop for the softball team.
"There hasn't been a lot of time when I haven't been playing a sport,'' Ringering said. "I think I made the comment before that I really haven't had a break from sports since I started T-ball.''
Pfeiffer said Ringering's competitiveness is what separates her from other athletes.
"She is so driven,'' Pfeiffer said. "She wants to be the best. She is a natural competitor. We're both that way. There has been quite a few games of H-O-R-S-E that I lose, but I'm playing again until I beat her. Obviously, she just wants to keep beating me.''
"We'd never stop playing if that's how it was,'' Ringering said of playing H-O-R-S-E until Pfeiffer wins. "She beat me once in my life, and that was just a bad shooting day. She'll never let me forget it.''
Ringering will focus on basketball in college. She has yet to make a college commitment, but she made a second visit to Maryville University in St. Louis last weekend.
Pfeiffer feels like Ringering's best basketball is ahead of her.
"I don't think she has reached her peak whatsoever,'' Pfeiffer said. "I think she is going get stronger. Her understanding of the game every single year has gotten better. When we talk basketball, it's like talking to another coach. And, she's going to get into a situation where she doesn't have to do everything.''
Central coach Nathan Rueter was chosen as the Coach of the Year.
The Cougars, who posted a 31-1 record, also had three players on first team in Wilken, seniors Maddie Timmermann and Torre Kohrmann.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.