With a record-breaking freshman season, Interstate 35 post player Gracey Griglione burst onto the scene and was named to the Iowa Newspaper Association's all-state second team in Class 3A as a front line player, announced Tuesday.
The INA all-state teams are selected by a panel of Iowa sportswriters, with assistance from the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association.
The 6-1 freshman, who was also a unanimous first-team selection in the Pride of Iowa Conference, made a big impact for the Roadrunners this year.
As part of a talented freshman group that also included Slye Richardson and Riley Morris, Griglione helped the Roadrunners go from 11-11 overall and 8-8 in the Pride of Iowa Conference last year to 14-8 overall and 12-4 in the conference this year.
The Roadrunners entered the last regular season game of the year with a chance to win a share of the conference title.
"We were right there and kind of stubbed our toe a couple of times," Interstate 35 head coach Jamie Smith said. "We had our destiny in our hands as far as winning the conference. I feel the top half of the conference is very strong and will be next year. I think with the experience of the freshmen and Caylin Brommel coming back, we're already excited about next year."
It's easy to see why Smith is excited about next year, with Griglione being part of the nucleus of the team moving forward.
The freshman post player had a solid year, averaging 13.7 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game, which ranked third in the conference behind a pair of freshmen in Nodaway Valley's Paige McElfish and teammate Morris.
But it was on defense where Griglione made her presence known the most.
Griglione recorded 140 blocked shots this season, which ranked tops in the state among all classes. That number is a state record in a single season for freshmen and also broke the Interstate 35 career record.
Her 140 blocks also ranks as the 21st highest total for a single season in state history.
"I think Gracey's kind of got a natural build for blocking shots," Smith said. "Good height, long arms and she's left-handed. That puts her dominant hand in front of a right-handed shooter's shooting hand. She's got a knack for it."
One of the biggest keys with Griglione's shot-blocking skills, Smith said, is that she doesn't just swat the ball out of bounds.
"Forty percent of her blocks we recovered for rebounds," he said. "That's not something I've taught her. She's done that on her own."
Griglione twice recorded double-digit blocks in one game. She became just the second Interstate 35 player to record a triple-double in a game when she scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked 11 shots in a 50-27 win over Wayne on Dec. 13.
Having her presence on the inside on defense has allowed the Roadrunners to try some different things on defense.
"She makes it easier to do some things defensively you wouldn't normally do," Smith said. "We can pressure the ball a little more knowing she's back there to take away inside stuff."
Griglione, who becomes Interstate 35's first all-stater since Olivia Sulentic in 2011, has only scratched the surface of what she can accomplish, Smith said.
"She's a gym rat," he said. "I think she'll only get better as she matures physically, mentally and emotionally."
Smith said there's still some things Griglione will have to improve in order to take the step to the next level, but he believes she'll accomplish that.
"There's no doubt in my mind she will," he said. "She's already in the gym as soon as the season is over. A little more physical. She'll have to get a little stronger. Those are things that can be easily attained. There's no doubt in my mind that's something she'll do."
Clarke senior Libby Bemis was also nominated for the Class 3A all-state teams. Bemis averaged 16.0 points per game to go with a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game. She also shot 70 percent from the free throw line.
Iowa Newspaper Association
Girls all-state basketball
Front court — Arika Wooldridge, Center Point-Urbana, 6-0, So.; Miranda Murphy, North Polk, 5-10, Sr.; Andrea Larson, Mediapolis, 6-0, Jr.
Back court — Alexis Conaway, MOC-FV, 6-0, Sr.; Kennedy Salow, Center Point-Urbana, 6-0, Sr.; Kassidy DeJong, Unity Christian, 5-10, Jr.
Utility — Paige Greiner, Williamsburg, 5-6, Sr.; Serena Parker, Shenandoah, 6-0, Jr.
Front court — Heidi Hillyard, Mediapolis, 6-0 Jr.; Gracey Griglione, Interstate 35, 6-1, Fr.; Emily McDonald, MOC-FV, 6-0, Sr.
Back court — Shelby Graves, Davis County, 5-7, Sr.; Emma Dau, Spirit Lake, 6-0, Jr.; Kate Walker, Red Oak, 5-11, Jr.
Utility — Ashley Burrows, Bondurant-Farrar, 5-9, Sr.; Miles Ludwigs, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 5-10, Sr.
Front court — Nicole Burgin, Oelwein, 6-0, Sr.; Krista Bousema, Sheldon, 5-9, Sr.; Logan Anderson, Clear Lake, 5-8, Sr.
Back court — Addie Oberman, Northeast Goose Lake, 5-11, Sr.; Kaely Hummel, Cherokee, 5-8, So.; Tessa Anderson, Crestwood, 5-8, Sr.
Utility — Katie Landhuis, MOC-FV, 5-8, Sr.; Megan Murphy, North Polk, 5-7, Sr.