DESPITE leading the Mermaids to a second consecutive grand final, Warrnambool guard Katie O’Keefe was surprised to win the Big V's top individual honours.
O’Keefe was crowned the league’s women’s division Most Valuable Player at an awards ceremony on Saturday night.
She was not present to accept the award and instead found out about her win via a text message from teammate Holly Greene.
“I was honoured but it was a very big shock,” O'Keefe said.
“I was sitting at home with my husband and friend watching TV.”
O’Keefe was named in the all-star five as a guard, edging out Greene, who was also nominated for the MVP award.
Craigieburn’s Tenille Cann won the other guard spot on offer, while Mermaids centre Kate Sewell was named the all-star centre.
O’Keefe played 14 matches for the Mermaids this season, averaging 18.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game.
She dropped double figures in every game she played with a season-high 31 points against Hawthorn in a knockout final.
O’Keefe said she had enjoyed teaching the side’s younger players this season.
“They rang up one day when they were short of players and I filled in and it was so much fun,” she said.
“I had a fun year helping the kids and I found the competition really good.”
Sewell said she was humbled to be named in the all-star five in her final season.
“There is a current WNBL player (Brigitte Ardossi) in there, so it is nice to be recognised, especially when I am retiring,” she said.
“It is nice because how it works is the coaches and captains vote.
“It is nice to think other teams recognise you as a good player.
“It was amazing to finish after winning back-to-back (titles) and this is another bonus.”
Warrnambool Mermaids coach Lester Pickett said O’Keefe had a “very consistent” season after joining the team late.
“Every coach would have put a lot of time into stopping Katie,” he said.
“She missed half-a-dozen games, so to win an award like that was very good.”
Pickett said O’Keefe, Sewell and Greene had been on-court leaders all season.
“The big three were huge all year,” he said.
“Sewell got in the starting five, so that was fantastic for Kate. It’s something to hang her hat on. There are a lot of good centres in the league.”
Warrnambool had a number of players nominated for awards but missed out.
Seahawks’ Cameron Mitchell was in line for the men’s division one MVP award and all-star centre spot.
Seahawk Dion Smith and Mermaid Darcy Saunders were nominated as rising stars and Pickett for coach of the year.