To say Nick Baskin made a mark at Saint Francis Catholic School would be an understatement.
One of the best athletes to walk the halls of the school, Baskin, at quarterback, led the Wolves to their first state playoff in football his senior season and provided many exciting performances on the basketball court and two regional final appearances.
Haley Ellefson had just as big an impact at Lafayette High in Mayo. An outstanding three-sport athlete, the senior shined on the volleyball and basketball courts, and especially on the softball field.
For their outstanding achievements, Baskin and Ellefson are The Sun’s Small School Athletes of the Year.
“I felt like I did really well this season, I had some ups and downs coming from football to basketball,” Baskin said. “But after Christmas break, I was at a new level. I hit some game-winning shots. I was playing really well.”
A first-team all-area performer in football, Baskin led Saint Francis to its greatest season ever at 8-2, its first North Florida Football Conference final and first Class 2A state playoff berth.
He completed 76 of 118 passes for 1,826 yards, 25 touchdowns and rushed for 420 yards and eight scores.
“Football we had some great athletes out there,” he said. “It was very fun. I had a great time being a part of it.”
He didn’t have much time off after football, as basketball season had already begun.
Although it took him a little time to adjust, Baskin, a point guard, soon had the Wolves going, averaging 15.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists a game, earning The Sun’s Small School Co-Player of the Year.
He signed a basketball scholarship with Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville. Baskin said he is looking forward to a new challenge.
“I have a lot of friends here and family, but I am only going up the road,” he said. “So family and friends, a lot of people can still see me play.
“I will just keep working out (this summer) and get ready to go to school in August.”
Ellefson grew up around sports, as both her parents were involved, and was playing softball at age 5.
“I grew up being competitive, I like to work hard,” she said. “I always had role models in Lafayette softball.
“Sports in Mayo, they are very competitive.”
A first-team all-area performer in volleyball, Ellefson, as an outside hitter, had 404 kills, 216 digs, 64 ace serves, 21 blocks and three assists for the 21-7 Hornets, who reached the Class 1A regional finals.
“I try to aim it in certain locations where to hit it, try to find open locations,” she said of her kills. “It is kind of fun watching girls try to dig it out.
“The thing about Union County is, we have lost to them now two times in a row in softball, three times in volleyball. Union is turning into a big rival.”
Union County was one point from losing at Lafayette in the 1A regional finals in volleyball, but rallied to win in five sets.
Ellefson, at 5-foot-11 forward, was first-team all-area in basketball, averaging 13.4 points and 10 rebounds a game and had 15 double-doubles. The Hornets advanced to the state tournament for the second straight season.
A first-team all-area also in softball, she batted .441 with 27 RBIs, and went 4-5 on mound with a 2.49 ERA with 74 strikeouts. She signed a softball scholarship with Florida Southwestern State in Fort Myers.
“All three sports are definitely team sports,” Ellefson said. “You have to communicate really well, especially in volleyball and basketball.
“I had a debate whether to go to college for softball or volleyball, but softball was No. 1.”
Fort White: Jacquez Pelham (Sr., football, weightlifting, track and field), Savana Terry (Sr., volleyball, girls weightlifting, softball), Raven Miles (Sr., volleyball, soccer, softball); Newberry: David Robinson (Sr., football, basketball, baseball), Jessica Parselis (Sr., girls weightlifting, softball); Oak Hall: Austin Gill (Sr., football, basketball, baseball), Ayanna Rollins (Sr., volleyball, basketball, track and field); Trenton: Jayce Gentry (Sr., football, basketball, baseball), Bryn Thomas (Jr., basketball, softball).
PREVIOUS SMALL SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
1999-2000: Marland Brown (Williston), Emily Gore (Chiefland)
2000-01: Al Peterson (Santa Fe), Latika Thomas (Hawthorne)
2001-02: Devin Gordon (Hawthorne), Lauren Hurst (Lafayette)
2002-03: Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne), Autumn Sutterlin (Oak Hall)
2003-04: Marcus Edwards (Lafayette), Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne), Fran Carter (Chiefland)
2004-05: Jiwan James (Williston), Kittery Neale (Oak Hall)
2005-06: C.J. Spiller (Union County), Natalie Land (Lafayette)
2006-07: Jiwan James (Williston), Natalie Land (Lafayette)
2007-08: Antwan Ivey (Newberry), Natalie Land (Lafayette)
2008-09: Jamal Reid (Lafayette), Heather Kraft (Oak Hall)
2009-2010: Deonte Welch (Williston); Cartaesha Macklin (Lafayette)
2010-2011: J.D. Tomlinson (Oak Hall); Cartaesha Macklin (Lafayette)
2011-2012: Montrell Bryant (Hawthorne); Lindsay O’Steen (Lafayette)
2012-2013: Stephen Smith (Trenton); Lindsay O’Steen (Lafayette)
2013-2014: Jake Altom (Cornerstone Academy); Madison O’Leary (Oak Hal)
2014-2015: Hamp Cheevers (Trenton); Takiya London (Chiefland)
2015-2016: Hamp Cheevers (Trenton); Takiya London (Chiefland)
2016-2017: Cory Durden (Newberry); Kailya Jackson (P.K. Yonge)
Note: The Sun's small school athlete of the year was selected by high school sports editor Larry Savage with help from area coaches. If a team is not represented, it is because the athletic director did not respond to numerous reminders by email.