Wade Jewkes, Deseret Morning News
Izzy Gustafson

When she was 6 years old, she was out slam dunking in the yard one day on an old basket with an adjustable cable to raise and lower the height of the basket.

It wasn't high enough for her, so she climbed up and tried to adjust the cable. She ended up catching three of her fingers in the cable and severing the fingertips.

But for Jordan senior Elizabeth (Izzy) Gustafson, this injury did not slow her down nor dampen her enthusiasm for basketball. In fact, at the age of 6 she was not a basketball rookie, having started playing the game two years earlier when she played in a Jr. Jazz league on a team made up entirely of boys — except for her.

In her early elementary school years she played basketball with the boys because as she put it, "Girls just hang out and gossip in elementary."

At Jordan, she starts on a team that has compiled an 11-2 overall mark and wants to savor every moment knowing this might be her last season playing on a team in organized competition.

"I play this game because I get an adrenaline rush," she said. "I found something I am good at and something that I love."

She has not ruled out playing at the college level, but most likely will have to walk on somewhere if that is going to happen.

After elementary school, Izzy — she insists on going by the name rather than Elizabeth during sports seasons — became involved with club basketball and has traveled extensively. Just this past summer she played in Reno, Nev., Chicago, Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Diego with the Utah Hornets.

With her spiked hair she just looks like an Izzy. "It defines who I am," she said.

Gustafson is a leader, for certain, both on and off the court for the Beetdiggers. In December, the student body vice-president led a fund-raiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in which the school raised $30,000 in less than a month.

On the court, she contributes 10 points per game but believes her best asset is her defense.

"She brings emotional energy," said Jordan coach Greg Cramer.

Her teammate, Kaylie Robison, is an inside player who depends on alert guards to get her the ball in position to score.

"She is a very good leader, both vocal and in action," Robison said. "I like her because she is the only one who passes me the ball."

E-mail: wjewkes@desnews.com