High school girls basketball: 2014 Deseret News MVPs worked relentlessly to lead their schools to titles
Whether it was Park's glaring absence from the lineup, during which the Red Devils lost every game plus three more while she got back into her rhythm, or her inspiring fight to return to the floor, the fallout from that misstep made one thing crystal clear: Park was the main cog that made the Springville girls basketball team go.
"She begged to play in the Timpanogos game and she could hardly walk," Oakey said, referring to the Red Devils' loss just five days after the initial injury. "We made her take the Christmas break off and when she came back in January, she had a special metal brace that we had to mail order."
Park scored 10 points that night against Wasatch and the Red Devils began to return to their winning ways.
Over the next two months, Springville won eight of its final nine regular-season games and leaned on Park for a handful of late-game heroics to push her team through the state tournament and back to cutting down the 4A nets for the second straight year.
"I told (her), 'Whatever you do, your teammate will follow,'" Oakey said. "And they did. She's a leader; she's competitive; and she doesn't get anxious or nervous. She just does what needs to be done."
In spite of her time on the injured list, Park, a four-year starter, still led her team with 13.6 points per game.
Blair Bliss, Desert Hills
Bliss decided early on that the Desert Hills Thunder were going to win the 3A state title. And as coach Chris Allred said, when Bliss makes up her mind, she follows through.
"She is one of the most competitive girls I have ever coached," he said. "She is the type of player you want to build your team around — she's not going to let you down."
Bliss led the Thunder through a dominating season, one that included just a single blemish and was highlighted with dramatic victories over 4A and 5A schools.
The senior guard was key in the Thunder's success, not only through scoring points, 12.9 of them per game, but also in passing the ball.
"She did a great job of pushing the ball and finding the open player," Allred said, noting Bliss' 5.1 assists-per-game average.
"Her offense came from the defensive end," he said. "She did a really good job of getting into transition, attacking the basket and distributing the ball."
Bliss also averaged 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 steals per contest, numbers that helped push the Thunder to a team average of 64.7 points per game.
"Blair has always been a great defender and rebounder," Allred said. "This year, offensively she became a better player. She has more confidence, especially with the ball in her hand, and her court vision has improved."
The most important key to her game though: "She provides a lot of energy, she really got our team going."
Riley Lyman, Enterprise
The Enterprise girls basketball team relied on Lyman throughout the season.
It relied on her when it lost four of its first six games of the season. It relied on her when it fell to third place in the Region 13 standings. And it relied on her as it won four straight games, only one of which had a single-digit margin of victory, to capture the 2A state championship.
"She has been the one we have relied on all year," said Enterprise coach Lance Jones. "There were four or five games that came down to the last play and she was always ready to step up in those big moments."