High school basketball: Girls All-State basketball Most Valuable Players

Published: Monday, March 18 2013 11:21 p.m. MDT

1A MVP: #10 Katie Panushka, St. Joseph Next » 1 of 5 « Prev
Only one thing overshadows Katie Panushka’s talent on the basketball court — the person she is on and off it.

“What shines brighter than Katie’s abilities and skills as a basketball player is her great attitude, her work ethic and her great leadership,” said St. Joseph head coach Joe Cravens. “She has the whole package of being a talented person, and she comes to play and play hard every time she steps on the court.”

The senior guard/forward is such an effective leader, Cravens said she ranks up there with the best he’s ever coached — including Division I men.

"She's maybe the best leader I've had at any level, and doing it in a very subtle, charming way,” he said. “She's not up in your face; she leads by example. She's an all-around athlete, student, just a kid that anyone would want to have as a daughter."

Panushka’s determination is something her mom Teresa Panushka has seen in just about every area of the teen’s life. Whether it’s taking a tough class or chasing a loose ball, she gives the task everything she has.

“She’s always been fairly athletic,” said her mom. “She’s always been very tenacious. She’s pretty goal-driven.”

Panushka’s competitive nature is something that served her well this season as the Jayhawks not only tried to earn back-to-back 1A titles, but they did it without a loss.

“She can be stubborn, but that’s probably a good thing,” said Teresa Panushka. “When she decides she’s going to do something, she does it. She’s been on high honor roll since she was in the fourth grade. … She really likes to challenge herself, on and off the court.”

Panushka led the team with 12.3 points per game this season. But she was also one of the team’s leading rebounders, especially in the playoffs when it mattered most. She averaged 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals per game in the 1A state tournament. She also hit the game-tying 3-point shot that sent her team’s semifinal win over Rich into the first of two overtimes.

“She was our leading scorer and without a doubt, our best perimeter defender,” said Cravens. “Because of her tenacity, competitive spirit and attention to detail, we put her on guards and forwards. … And she played well in big games, when you needed your star to play well.” Her ability to rise to the occasion is what made it so difficult for opponents to stop her.

“When we played against her the first time, she beat us,” said Layton Christian Academy head coach Lewis Lofton. “She hits great shots. … She has great timing for when to step up her game. When a team really needs her, that’s when she steps up.”
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