Freeland girls basketball coach Tom Zolinski called Tori Jankoska one day last week and told her he wanted to stop by her house to give her a basketball that had been rolling around in his car for a week.
The ball was to signify Jankoska had scored 1,000 points in her career.
“So he walked in the door and gave me the ball,” Jankoska said. “I looked for the writing that said 1,000 points, but it said: ‘2013 Miss Basketball.’ “
Jankoska looked at Zolinski and asked: “What?”
Zolinski said: “You got it! You won!”
Yes, she did.
Jankoska is the 32nd recipient of the Miss Basketball Award, given annually to the state’s top senior by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan in conjunction with the Free Press.
Jankoska accumulated 2,450 points to finish ahead of Goodrich’s Taylor Gleason (2,132), Abby Cole of Grand Haven (1,784), Antania Hayes of Detroit King (965) and Allie Havers of Mattawan (931).
Only BCAM members are permitted to vote, and points are awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Of 918 votes cast, Jankoska received 363 first-place votes, 157 more than anyone else.
Jankoska was a scorer deluxe, totaling 2,333 points during her career. This season, she averaged 30.9 points, seven rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.
She becomes the third recipient in the past four years to sign with Michigan State. Next fall she will play with fellow Miss Basketball winners Klarissa Bell (East Lansing, 2010) and Jasmine Hines (Central Lake, 2011).
Jankoska took up the game as a 4-year-old because older sisters, Jessie, 22, and Jenny, 20, played basketball.
“In kindergarten, she went to the first camp where they let second-graders go to learn the game,” said her mother, Lisa. “She was better than most of the kids at that point. She shot kind of crazy, but it seemed to always go in. After that it was all about effort, because she seemed to have that drive.”
Jankoska played on a boys travel team from second grade through sixth grade and developed an excellent shot.
“She has a sweet stroke; it’s just natural,” said Andrea Gorski, coach at Concordia University and chairperson for the Miss Basketball Award. “You can tell she played with boys when she was younger. She’s got almost the perfect shot and she gets it off quick. It’s high enough, and she’s got some serious range.”
Saginaw Nouvel’s Jenny Ryan, who won the award in 2009, is the first Miss Basketball Jankoska remembers, and they met shortly after Ryan won the award.
“I was amazed by Jenny Ryan when I was in middle school,” Jankoska said. “I watched her play in the state championship game, and I thought I wanted to be just like her.”
But being Miss Basketball was not a goal for Jankoska throughout high school.
“I didn’t really think about it until my senior year,” she said. “That’s when everybody started saying it and I read in the newspaper: ‘Miss Basketball candidate Tori Jankoska.’ I didn’t realize it until then.”
But that didn’t mean she didn’t want to be good enough to win the award. Her drive to improve allowed her to make quantum leaps in ability each year.
“It was, obviously, a goal of mine to be the best,” she said. “But I think later in my junior year and my senior year is when I really wanted to try to win it.”
Zolinski knew his protégé had the making of a Miss Basketball Award long before it became a goal of Jankoska.
“I think it’s her love for the game,” he said. “Ever since she was little, she was so competitive with it. She was always playing with the boys. She always had a desire for basketball. She always wanted to get better.”
More Details: How they finished
Results of the 32nd annual Miss Basketball Award, given by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, in conjunction with the Detroit Free Press:
|Abby Cole||Grand Haven||1,784|
|Antania Hayes||Detroit King||965|
Here are the 31 former winners of the Miss Basketball Award:
2012: Madison Ristovski, G.P. Liggett (U-M)
2011: Jasmine Hines, Central Lake (MSU)
2010: Klarissa Bell, East Lansing (MSU)
2009: Jenny Ryan, Saginaw Nouvel (U-M)
2008: Kellie Watson, Ionia (Notre Dame/Grand Valley)
2006: Brenna Banktson, Frankfort (WMU)
2005: Allyssa DeHaan, Grandville (MSU)
2004: Tiffanie Shives, Lansing Christian (MSU/Gonzaga)
2003: Krista Clement, St. Ignace (U-M)
2002: Danielle Kamm, Saginaw Nouvel (Marquette)
2001: Liz Shimek, Maple City Glen Lake (MSU)
2000: Tabitha Pool, Ann Arbor Huron (U-M)
1999: Vicki Krapohl, Mt. Pleasant (Duke)
1998: Kristen Koetsier, Grandville (WMU)
1997: Aiysha Smith, Redford Bishop Borgess (St. John’s/LSU)
1996: Deana Nolan, Flint Northern (Georgia)
1995: Maxann Reese, Redford Bishop Borgess (MSU)
1994: Kim Knuth, St. Joseph (Toledo)
1993: Sally Sedlar, Manistee (Toledo/CMU)
1992: Erinn Reed, Saginaw (Iowa/Kansas)
1991: Lisa Negri, Flint Powers (Ohio State)
1990: Markita Aldridge, Detroit King (UNC-Charlotte)
1989: Peggy Evans, Country Day (Tennessee/Ohio State)
1988: Jennifer Shasky, Birmingham Marian (George Washington)
1987: Dena Head, Plymouth Salem (Tennessee)
1986: Daedra Charles, Detroit DePorres (Tennessee)
1985: Franthea Price, River Rouge (Iowa)
1984: Emily Wagner, Livonia Ladywood (Stanford)
1983: Michele Kruty, Manistee (Dayton)
1982: Sue Tucker, Okemos (MSU)
1981: Julie Polakowski, Leland (MSU)