Makenzie Helms of East Haven was named the 2018-19 Gatorade Connecticut Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
The 5-foot-8 senior guard led the Yellowjackets to a 20-5 record and to both the SCC championship game and the Class L state quarterfinals. Helms averaged 26.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 4.3 steals through 25 games. The Southern Connecticut Conference Player of the Year, she was a New Haven Register First Team All-State honoree as a junior and was selected to the 2018 USA TODAY ALL-USA Connecticut First Team.
“Makenzie has an old-school mentality. She’d rather make the extra pass every time and she’s a great distributor,” East Haven coach Anthony Russell said. “She’s a vocal leader but not screaming, she’s more about talking individually to the other kids. She is a worker day in and day out.”
Helms has volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
“Helms can get baskets whenever she wants,” said Tim Tredwell, head coach at Daniel Hand High. “She’s very quick with a great first step and her jump shot is just picture perfect. She’s very unselfish too.”
Helms has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of Nebraska this fall.
Helms joins Gatorade Connecticut Girls Basketball Players of the Year Bella Santoro (2017-18, Mercy High School), McKenna Dale (2016-17, E.O. Smith High School), Shaquana Edwards (2015-16, Weaver High School), and Kiah Gillespie (2014-15 & 2013-14, Capital Prep) as athletes who have recently won the basketball award.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Helms also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing. She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.