Tiffany Gooden: Karissa McLaughlin, Homestead
Boys Coach of the Year: Jeremy Rauch, Snider; Shabaz Khaliq, North Side
Girls Coach of the Year: Rod Parker, Homestead
Homestead girls basketball senior Karissa McLaughlin was honored with the 2017 Tiffany Gooden Award at Monday night's annual basketball awards co-sponsored by The Journal Gazette and Parkview Sports Medicine at Mirro Center.
“To receive the Tiffany Gooden Award tonight, to receive it from her, it's truly an honor, two years in a row,” McLaughlin said. “There's so much talent in the city of Fort Wayne. This award goes out to my teammates and coaches and all the influential people in my life. I wouldn't be able to do this without them.”
The award is given to the best player, male or female, in the SAC.
The 5-foot-8 guard and Indiana Miss Basketball finalist won the award last year as a junior and earned this year's award after a season where she averaged 25.8 points, 5.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds. She scored 29 points against Indianapolis Pike in the Spartans' 61-54 win for the Class 4A state championship.
“The candidate pool was extremely deep,” Gooden said. “I think what made her stand out, in my opinion, was that she utilized the experience that she had as a sophomore and worked really hard. When had the opportunity to come back, on the biggest stage, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the state championship game, her performance was just remarkable. It was an excellent way to cap off a phenomenal season.”
McLaughlin's coach, Rod Parker, was named the SAC Girls Coach of the Year as the Spartans finished as SAC regular season, SAC tournament and Class 4A state champions.
“It just means a ton for our program at Homestead,” Parker said. “It's a true reflection of all the kids in our program, how hard they work and all they do to make us the team we've been the last few years.
“I'm really excited for Karissa. The Tiffany Gooden Award is obviously the best and most elite award in Fort Wayne. She's very deserving of it, and I'm glad she's been able to win it two years in a row.”
North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq and Snider coach Jeremy Rauch were honored as the boys co-coaches of the year.
Khaliq led the Legends to their first state championship game appearance since 1965 and their fourth consecutive SAC tournament championship.
“It means a lot,” he said about the award. “It says a lot about what we were able to accomplish this year, not just myself but our coaches and players. It's not an award that's designed for an individual even though you get individual recognition, it's an award that's designed for your program, the success of your program both as coaches and as players.”
In his first year at the head of the Snider program, Rauch led the Panthers to their first SAC regular-season championship since 2009 helped by an overtime win over North Side early in the season.
“He did a phenomenal job,” Khaliq said of Rauch, who was not in attendance to receive the award. “Those guys competed every game. Obviously we played them early in the season, so that was a big game, a heavily contested game. It's easy to get let down after that, and he kept those guys prepared, so they didn't have any letdowns and maintained their focus throughout the season and win the conference championship.
“He did a great job in his first year at Snider. They're blessed to have him.”