With the basketball season quickly drawing to a close, I'd like to give out a few awards to this year's teams and players. The hardwood has seen its share of memorable moments, monumental performances, huge wins, hard losses and career builders.Here are a few of the more noticeable achievements the 2007-08 hardcourt season has brought: My girls basketball Oscars.
SHE'S BACK: Timpview's Alexis Kaufusi made her big comeback after losing large parts of two seasons with major injuries, and she's averaging 15.6 points per game, third best in 4A.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: The American Fork Cavemen and their frenetic pace and fabulous play landed them in a truly coveted spot: First place in 5A and a 17-1 record, looking for a state trophy.
COMEBACK KIDS: After a 2-9 preseason the Spanish Fork girls resurgence and a run at the playoffs has been one of the feel-good stories of the year.
TEAMS OF THE FUTURE: Wait, these teams are winning now and doing it convincingly. Though most of their players are underclassmen, American Fork and Springville don't seem to be noticing the youths.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A LEADING ROLE: Springville's Ashley Kroneberger outscored all the 4A competition through most of the season by leading the Red Devils with her 16.9 points per game average.
DISAPPEARING ACT: After starting the season as a Region 7 favorite, the Payson Lions dropped like a rock and completely out of the playoff picture.
WINNING WITHOUT STAR POWER: The Mountain View Bruins are playing themselves right into the playoffs, and they're doing it without a single player averaging even eight points per game.TWIN TOWER TANDEM: Six-foot-6 Jennifer Hamson and 6-foot-3 Sarah Clement put up a brick wall, a swat force and a board corps all in one for the Pleasant Grove Vikings.
GIANT UPSET: The American Fork Cavemen proved they really are the Patriots of Utah girls basketball when the Lone Peak Knights, who had lost six of their previous eight, visited their rivals from the south and came away with the surprising upset, knocking off the previously unbeaten Cavemen 41-38.
TOP TREYMAKERS: You don't want to leave any of these girls open from long range. The valley's top 3-point threats will make you pay. Timpview's Gabrielle Pinegar, Timpanogos' Megan Bishop, Pleasant Grove's Whitney Giles, Springville's Genna Brown, American Fork's Amy Krommenhoek, Spanish Fork's Aly Tingey and American Leadership's Cassandra Ascencio lead their leagues in the long ball.
TOP RAINMAKERS: Utah Valley's leading scorers do everything for their teams, and they can score from all over the field, with a large variety of moves. Lone Peak's Amanda Farish, American Fork's Haley Holmstead, Springville's Ashley Kroneberger, Timpview's Alexis Kaufusi and American Leadership's Cassandra Asencio are the girls all teams focus on stopping.
F IS FOR FANTASTIC: Lone Peak's three "F"s are ripping up the scoresheet for the powerful Knights. The team from Highland counts heavily on the services from Amanda Farish, Marquelle Funk and Shantel Flanary. The three combine to average over 32 points per game in addition to their intense hustle and great defense.
IRONIC TWIST OF FATE: Timpanogos' Amanda Larsen went down with what the team thought was a broken hand during a tournament in Phoenix in December. The T-Wolves returned to find out it wasn't broken after all only to lose Lissy Bingham to what else? a broken hand for the rest of the season.
SUMMER CURSE OF THE YEAR: Spanish Fork's Jenna Johnson tore an ACL in July and was told she'd miss all of both the volleyball and basketball seasons, but she's one tough cookie. She battled hard and broke the curse, making her big comeback just as predicted, for Region 4 play.
COSMETOLOGY BEST HAIR AWARD: The Provo Bulldogs. From Vanna Cox's Bantu Knots to Ashley Kuchar's loose locks to the long flowing manes of Ethline Fa'atoafe and Sepi Ika, the Bulldogs are definitely a sight to watch. And they can play some pretty good ball, too.
MENTAL BLOCK AT THE STRIPE: Jennifer Hamson doesn't stand in the paint with her arms high trying to swat free throws, but sometimes it appears Springville's Red Devils are afraid of just that. This team wins in spite of its play at the stripe, and many of its losses could have been avoided with a few more friendly bounces from the free throw line.
MOVING UP AND MOVING OUT: The Lehi Pioneers had to make one of the toughest jumps in girls' basketball this season as they moved right out of the 4A playoffs and into last place in their 5A region. Maybe they'll make more noise next season.
NEVER PREDICT ANYTHING: More likely than not, you'll be wrong. Timpview holds the valley's only perfect region mark, but even they've survived some curious scares.
EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT: The Provo Bulldogs finally prevailed on the road after Mountain View took them to not one but two extra sessions. Ashley Kuchar put 11 in for the Bulldogs in the final period and two overtimes. Lehi won their double overtime contest against Highland as well with a pair of clutch treys from Jackie Cattani getting them there.
SPEAKING OF OVERTIME: The Orem Tigers have exceeded their time limit three times this season, winning twice. Their two extra session victories came over Pleasant Grove and Tooele, while the loss was to Region 7-leading Timpview.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESSES: American Fork is so loaded with stars that Cydne Mason and Nikki Ybarra are relegated to life as role players. But they tackle these roles with flair.
WATCH OUT! NOW SHE CAN SCORE, TOO: Always known as a defensive specialist, Timpanogos' Noelle Sanders decided it was time to shine on the offensive end of the court as well. She now averages more than seven points per game, drives to the hole ruthlessly and has extended her range to behind the arc.BEST DEFENSE OF A TITLE: Last year's state champ T-Birds came into Region 7 play with a flourish, hoping to not only take a No. 1 seed into state but wanting to do it without a league loss. So far, so good.