Bloom Township's Bria Gaines is a team player. Period.
After tournament-clinching wins or a simple non-conference game, Gaines is always the first athlete to tell anyone listening that she wouldn't be where she is without her team.
For the 2012-2013 season, Bria Gaines is the Times Illinois Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
The senior did a pretty good job leading the Blazing Trojans. She averaged 23.7 points per game and 16.9 rebounds per game plus Gaines finished with a double-double in all but one game -- a sectional final loss to eventual Class 4A state champion Marian Catholic. For her outstanding season, Gaines is player of the year for the second straight year.
"Being player of the year is a good accomplishment," Gaines said, "but I couldn't have done it without my team and coaches to back me up."
Her career numbers are 1,593 points and 879 rebounds. Gaines and the Blazing Trojans started the 2012-2013 campaign with three goals: win the Hillcrest Holiday Tournament, go undefeated in Southland Athletic Conference play and make it to the state finals. The team attained the first two goals.
"We all knew that we had big accomplishments to make this year, but we took it step by step," Gaines said. "We believed in each other to get those goals accomplished."
"I'm going to miss playing for Bloom. I'm proud of my accomplishments, but I can't get too complacent."
Bloom Township head coach Ron Newquist has seen the development of Gaines and believes she is the embodiment of who the Blazing Trojans program.
"She was player of the year for Bloom," Newquist said, "because she embodies what we were all about through hard work and dedication to what we were trying to accomplish."
Next season, Newquist and the Blazing Trojans will have big shoes to fill.
"Not only was she a great player, she was an absolute leader on the floor," Newquist said. "A mentor to younger kids on the team. And that's irreplaceable."
Gaines will continue her basketball career next season at Western Kentucky. Gaines said she is nervous but not concerned about fitting in with the Hilltoppers.
"I'm a little nervous about going, but I know I'll get over it," Gaines said. "I'm not really a shy type person, so I won't be out of the box."