CINCINNATI – Three years ago this week, Carlie Pogue was preparing for a state championship game with Princeton High School.
Now, the New Hampshire junior center is enjoying the best season of her collegiate career after winning America East Conference Player of the Year honors. She became only the second player of the year in program history and the first since 1988-89.
“I’m just so proud of Carlie,” New Hampshire coach Maureen Magarity said. “We always knew she had it in her to take that next step in her game. I’m not surprised by any means. She’s really, really worked hard. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of her for, just her work ethic this year. In the offseason she really did a great job of getting into shape and she used practice to get better every single day. I think she was just really locked in this year.”
New Hampshire (26-5), which set a program record for most wins in a season, was a top seed in the conference tournament but was upset by Maine. New Hampshire will find out its WNIT opponent tonight. This will be the second WNIT berth in program history (1998-99).
“We have a good shot of winning a lot of games in the WNIT,” Pogue said last week.
Pogue averaged 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds during the regular season. She averaged 18.9 points in conference games and over the past 11 games has averaged 21.6 points.
Pogue, a psychology major, was disappointed by the results of the conference tournament but is already looking ahead to next season to take another step in her game and for leadership among her teammates.
Princeton High School coach Jill Phillips isn’t surprised by Pogue’s production.
Phillips coached that 2014 Vikings team to a state title when Pogue was a senior. Princeton had All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State) on that squad too. Pogue still keeps in touch with Mitchell and says it's been "unbelievable" what Mitchell has accomplished.
While Mitchell garnered much of the attention on the Princeton team, Phillips knew Pogue could succeed at a Division I college program. The two have stayed in touch.
Pogue played a lot of minutes her first two years in college but was often in foul trouble. This year, everything has culminated in an excellent season.
“I haven't given her any advice this season but her senior year of high school, I kept telling coaches that her best basketball was still in front of her and she has proven that,” Phillips said. “I was just talking on Saturday to a former college coach about her and how no local colleges really recruited Carlie. For her to go that far away from and play the way she has been playing is really a credit to her dedication.”
Magarity said there have been some games in which Pogue has been “unstoppable.” Her rebounding and defense has been very solid.
“She’s had a tremendous year,” Magarity said. “The one thing that has set her apart this year has been her consistency. Pretty much every game she is our go-to inside. It’s on both ends of the floor this year.”