2013-14 Madison Courier Player of the Year and Defensive player of the Year Olivia Crozier in action with the Madison Lady Cubs. (Courier file photo)
2013-14 Madison Courier Player of the Year and Defensive player of the Year Olivia Crozier in action with the Madison Lady Cubs. (Courier file photo)
In early December, Madison center Olivia Crozier put together the kind of stat line that showcased exactly the kind of talent she has.

In a 63-57 win at Floyd Central - a game in which Madison needed a big fourth-quarter rally just to win - the 6-foot-1 junior scored 17 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and had nine blocks. On top of that Crozier also had five assists and six steals.

As it turned out, games like that were more the rule than the exception and when it came to picking a Courierarea Player of the Year, it was easy to call Crozier's name for the second-straight year.

"It's pretty awesome to make it two years in a row," Crozier said. "I still need improvement in a lot of areas but I'm pretty happy with the way my season went. It's been a good year."

It's hard to imagine a better year than that of Crozier. Three weeks after that Floyd Central game she verbally committed to Southeast Missouri State University and two months after that, she was facing off against the best team in the state in the regional final where she had 16 points and 10 rebounds in a season-ending loss to Evansville Mater Dei.

That was a far cry from a year ago when Crozier was held to an 0-for-2 shooting performance in a loss to Rushville in the sectional finals. And while she still felt like her team missed a chance this season, she was happy with the result.

"I still think that we could have won that game. Just a few mistakes were the difference," said Crozier of the loss to Mater Dei. "But overall I'm happy. We made it to the regional final and it's hard to be upset about that."

Not content to rest on her laurels after last year, Crozier set about getting even better over the summer and succeeded. Her biggest goal - becoming a better outside shooter - eluded her but not because of ability.

Determined to be more of a 3-point threat, Crozier spent the year working on her shot and in practice, she was deadly. But once games started, she was reluctant to fire away.

Crozier said it was all in her head.

"I'd take a shot and just miss it and I didn't want to take another one," Crozier said. "It was just a mental thing totally. I was thinking about it too much. My coach (Willie Humes) kept wanting me to shoot more and I finally did in the first game of the regional and I hit two of them. That gave me the confidence."

Three-point shooting isn't the only area where Crozier wants to improve. Always cognizant of the impact free throws have on a game, she wants to improve on the 66 percent she shot from the foul stripe this season. And she also wants to get better with the ball in her hands.

While a center in high school, Crozier knows she will be called upon to play the three or four positions in college and wants to be a better ball-handler.

But Crozier's biggest impact may come off the floor. She relishes the idea of becoming a senior and leading her team and looks forward to the chance to doing what she can to win games.

"I'll let the coaches coach but I want to make us a family. I want to help people get better," Crozier said. "I want to lead by example. If there are girls looking up to me, I want to help them out and show them what it takes to get better and to win."

Crozier said she doesn't like to dwell in the past and has already began looking forward to next season. While Madison is graduating six seniors - including four starters - Crozier believes the Lady Cubs have the ability to be just as good her senior season.

Two Lady Cubs, sophomore Katie Hartman and freshman Sage Sproles, will play with Crozier on her AAU team Indiana Flight and she knows that experience will make both better.

Sproles in particular is already benefiting from Crozier's experience. The 5-foot-10 freshman saw her first varsity action in the tournament this year and will be called upon to play a much bigger role next year. Crozier is already grooming Sproles to be a bigger contributor.

"She's like my little sister," Crozier said. "I'm always trying to get her stronger and make her better."

All of that leads to a senior season that could trump her first two fantastic years. Crozier was just named to the Junior All-Star team and if she makes the Indiana All-Stars next year, she will be the first Lady Cub since Carla Eades in 1980 to earn the honor.

"I'm so excited about next year," Crozier said. "I've always wanted to be a senior and I just can't wait."