As the top threat on a team that struggled to compete in Division I, senior Danielle LeBlanc had to deal with the opposition using a ton of its energy to stop her game in and game out.
She still got the job done.
LeBlanc, who just finished her senior year at Pilgrim, led the Pats to their first victory in two full seasons in D-I, earned first-team All-State honors and scored her 1,000th career point during the year.
It wasn’t the greatest season in terms of wins and losses, but taking everything into account, there was still a lot to be excited about when it was all said and done.
“She was always positive,” Pilgrim head coach Ian Smith said. “Considering the position that she was in, I think a lot of athletes would not have been as positive as she was. The situation that we had with our alignment, and also the scouting report on Pilgrim was ‘stop Danielle.’ When you have some of the best defenders in the state one her and everyone knows that’s our best option in terms of scoring, it can lead to some frustrating nights, but she was positive.”
LeBlanc was also productive. She was the fifth-leading scorer in the state at 17.6 points per game, and her 1,000th point was a landmark moment for a program that has now had three 1,000-point scorers in the last three years.
She also led the Pats in assists, and her game extended to defense, where she was the team’s best on-ball defender, and to rebounding, where her athleticism at the point guard position made up for her small stature.
“Every game, two, three players guarded me at a time so there wasn’t much I could do, but I did what I could,” LeBlanc said. “I still tried to get everyone involved.”
She led by example, too, as her time and dedication during Pilgrim’s practices became contagious, even as the losses continued to pile up.
“She did a little bit of everything for us,” Smith said. “Obviously scoring, but leadership on the court, setting the example, showing kids on the team the best way to play basketball. Her work ethic was hard – long off-season workouts, and in-season she was constantly working out.”
All that work helped pave the way for her next step in life, too, as LeBlanc is set to play basketball at Rhode Island College this coming winter.
“I’m excited, to say the least,” LeBlanc said. “The team, I met with them a couple of times, played pick-up with them. It’s just a perfect fit.”