High school basketball: Girls MVPs more than just talented athletes

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

Kartchner's defining moment came in the team's final game — a loss to Springville. She scored 25 points and grabbed 22 rebounds, showing that she couldn't be stopped even by one of the state's best defenses.

"She's a high school girl, but she takes basketball very seriously and it shows," said Thornton.

Kartchner's effort in the off-season made the difference for the young Mustangs.

"It was huge," said Thornton. "Especially since we started quite a few younger girls."

The coach said Kartchner's ability to handle the ball in the open court gave her an edge — especially as a post player.

"It's very rare for a post to get a rebound, drive the length of the court and finish, while being guarded the whole time," said Thornton. "We had a play for Karlee to go one-on-one. That caught a lot of people off guard."

3A MVP: Amy Harris, Snow Canyon

Amy Harris has always been an impressive young talent on the basketball court.

"In the past she's been a real talent," said Warriors coach Wade Jensen. "The last two years, we've had glimpses where she was unbelievable."

But her brilliant play was stymied by chronic injuries.

Still expectations were extremely high for the junior guard and her talented young teammates coming into this season. Then, in the first game of the season, she sustained a concussion in the final seconds of a loss to Juan Diego.

She had to sit out for five games, and she watched as her teammates won every one of them.

"She came to me and asked me what I was thinking," said Jensen. "And I told her, 'We're going to win with or without you this year.' Within a couple of days, she was back at it, and she became a more complete player."

Harris averaged 16.55 points and 6.95 rebounds per game. She also led her team in 3-pointers, draining 28 from beyond the arc, and steals with 86.

"She is a gym rat," said Jensen. "She works as hard as anybody on her game."

And instead of withering under pressure, she thrived.

"This year she did what she had to do to win," said Jensen. "Everybody knew when it was crunch time, she was going to be taking the shot."

But that doesn't mean she was selfish in her approach to earning those wins — and eventually the 3A state title.

"She became a better teammate," said Jensen. "She wasn't worried about numbers, just how she could help the team."

Rather than flashes of brilliance, her coaches saw consistently impressive play every night.

"I think last year she put too much pressure on herself," Jensen said. Harris, who is as hard working in the classroom as she is on the court, moved from point guard to shooting guard and helped the team even more because of her confidence.

"She's the one who wanted to take the big shot," said Jensen. "When things get tough, sometimes kids are uncertain of themselves. She just had confidence; she wanted the opportunity to make a big play."

2A MVP: Megan Bean, Richfield

As an athletic forward, opponents expect Megan Bean to score.

But what other teams don't always anticipate is just how quick the junior is and how well she can handle the ball.

"She had guard-like speed," said Richfield coach Marc Peterson. "She just runs the floor really well. And she's efficient inside the paint. Her percentage was just off the charts."

Bean led the classification with 16 points per game, and was one of the top rebounders, averaging eight boards per game. She also averaged three blocked shots per game. Bean was better because her team needed her to be better.

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