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Ricchiuti, Williams, earn coaches' POY honors

You can’t put a price on earning the respect of your opponents and piers.

Hauppauge’s Julie Williams and Herricks’ Alison Ricchiuti were happy to learn that this season.

Section XI coaches named Williams its Suffolk player of the year and Section VIII coaches declared Ricchiuti its Nassau player of the year, earning both senior girls basketball stars the highest honor either county has to offer.

“Honestly I was so surprised,” Williams said. “I had wanted that award and it’s the highest honor…I was completely shocked.”

Said Ricchiuti: “I was really surprised when I got it. When I first started playing I never expected to be where I was and become so successful.”

For Williams, the coaches’ honor only adds to her historic season. She became the first basketball player from Hauppauge, boys or girls, to win the award, and finished her career as one of the best three-point shooters in state history, leading Suffolk this season with 68 made three-pointers. With her 231 total threes, she’ll land in the top-10 all-time for three-pointers made.

“I thought just coming from a school where basketball isn’t a big sport, it’s really cool to get that honor,” Williams said. “My role in years past was to shoot threes and that’s how people defined me and it’s pretty cool to be all time in the state.”

But Williams became a more diverse player this season, evolving from a spot-up shooter to a versatile, fearless offensive threat. Her newfound commitment to attacking the basket and improving her ball-handling skills allowed her to lead Suffolk with 25.6 points per game.

She did, however, fittingly score her 1,000th career point earlier this season on a three-pointer on her way to scoring 1,425 career points, which is good for second on Hauppauge’s all-time scoring list for girls basketball.

“She was all around this year and it wasn’t just her offense, she averaged over eight steals per game,” Hauppauge coach Jamie Edson said. “I asked her to do more this year than I’ve ever asked a player to do and she flourished in the roles that we gave her.”

Ricchiuti also made history this season for Herricks.

She too is the first male or female basketball player from her school to win the coaches’ award, and became Herricks’ all-time leading scorer in girls basketball with 1,347 career points.

She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark on Dec. 18 against Great Neck South and led Nassau in scoring with 22.1 points per game in her fifth year on varsity.

“It feels really good because it’s good for our school to have some success in basketball,” Ricchiuti said. “I was surprised about that. I never expected to become the best at anything. It feels really great because after all the hard work, this is what came out of it.”

Said Herricks coach Glenn Lavey: “She never missed a practice in five years. Every kid is so happy for her… She just wanted the team to win really badly and she’s so humble. When she got to 1,000 points she had no clue she was even close to it.”

And the impact she had on her team was remarkable.

Herricks posted a 58-13 overall record with Ricchiuti in the lineup over the past four seasons, and won two conference titles in that span. Prior to her arrival, Herricks had won only two conference championships.

“She elevated our program with her spirit and her passion,” Lavey said. “I’ll never coach a kid like her again. There may be more talented kids down the road but no one is like her.”