HOWLAND - In retrospect, it would have been one of the worst decisions of Alli Pavlik's young life.
During her freshman year at Lakeview High School, Pavlik wasn't sure if she wanted to add basketball to a sports repertoire that included her favorite sport of soccer. Convinced by coach Adam Lewis and assistant Sarah Brugler-Lewis that better times were ahead for the program, Pavlik made the decision to give basketball a chance.
It proved to be a wise choice. If Pavlik had decided to not play basketball, she wouldn't have given area fans the enjoyment of watching one of the best scoring machines in recent years. She had 56 points against Campbell Memorial this season and later had a 48-point game against Girard.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview's Alli Pavlik
"I went out for one open gym (as a freshman) and our (assistant) coach, coach 'B' (Brugler-Lewis), said, 'You need to stay around,' " Pavlik said. "The fact she believed in me as a freshman was kind of, 'All right, I'll stick around and do it and see what it turns into.' I'm glad to represent them."
That would be Brugler-Lewis and Lewis, who have turned the Bulldogs' program into one of the best in the area. They received a huge assist from Pavlik, whose stellar four-year career was capped Monday when she was named the girls' Player of the Year at the 27th annual Trumbull County Coaches Association Basketball Banquet at Leo's Ristorante.
Pavlik, who recently accepted a scholarship to play soccer at Ohio Dominican University, at times looked like a soccer player in a basketball uniform on the court. Her ability to constantly be on the move, running the floor in transition, was a tribute to both her basketball skills and her skills as a striker in soccer.
"She's tenacious," Lewis said. "She gets after it constantly. She's the most competitive kid I've ever coached. She has that winner's mentality, no-quit attitude. That pretty much describes her. She plays so hard all the time."
Lewis saw Pavlik's skills in soccer and realized that the endurance factor that's so important on the soccer pitch could be put to good use indoors.
"Her defensive ability shows on the court," Lewis said. "She gets that from soccer. Her lateral quickness and things like that. Definitely soccer plays into what she's able to do on the basketball court."
Pavlik, a first team all-state selection, posted big scoring numbers for the 22-3 Bulldogs, finishing with an average of 25.4 points a game. Her defensive ability was constantly on display as she led the Bulldogs with 139 steals. Pavlik tied her younger sister Abby for the team lead in assists with 88.
Lakeview had designs on an undefeated regular season, but ultimately finished 20-2 after late-season defeats to Pymatuning Valley and Austintown Fitch. The Bulldogs lost to Struthers in the first round of the Division II district.
"I would have loved to have made it to the district championship, but we were in a tough bracket," Pavlik said. "West Branch, Struthers and us were the three best teams in this area, but I'm really glad with what we accomplished. I couldn't have asked for a better season."
Pavlik understandably had offers to play basketball at the next level, but she never wavered from her first love of soccer. That doesn't mean she won't bounce a few basketballs in the future.
"If I were to rate soccer on a scale of one to 10, I'd give it a 10, and basketball would get a nine," said Pavlik, who will major in business. "It was that tough for me to decide, but I was born with a love for soccer. That's how (boys' Player of the Year) Peyton (Aldridge) is with basketball. I'm still going to go to the gym and shoot around."
The soccer coach at Ohio Dominican better hope Pavlik doesn't get too comfortable shooting a basketball.