It's funny how some things work out. Take the case of Lana Sitterud.
As the lone returning starter and only varsity-experienced player from Lone Peak's 1999 championship team, the only way the Knights were going to do well this year was for Sitterud to help her teammates have their own success.
Ironically, Sitterud's achievement at being the ultimate team player has led to her earning the highest individual honor in the state, being named as the Deseret News' Ms. Basketball for the 1999-2000 season.
Sitterud helped Lone Peak post its second-straight 22-1 season, even though her scoring totals dropped from the previous year in which she was named the Class 4A MVP. She averaged 16.1 points an outing, two points lower than her sophomore season, but she still tops her team.
Her other team-leading categories were the impressive part of her season though, as Sitterud nearly doubled her assists to 6.5 per game, and she increased her steals average to 5.3. She even led the Knights in rebounding from the point guard position with a 4.6 average. Sitterud had a season-high 27 points against Timpview and recorded 12 steals in a win over Springville.
"She didn't care how much she scored. She could have taken over and scored 30 a game if that's what we wanted to happen," said Lone Peak coach Shauna Kay. "Her attitude was that she wanted her teammates to succeed. From the bench or on the court, she focused on them being successful."
Sitterud's willingness to step back from the offensive spotlight helped her teammates gain necessary confidence, which in turn helped Lone Peak earn a perfect 21-0 regular season. The Knights also extended their winning streak to the second-longest in state history at 43 games.
The undefeated regular season was bewildering to Kay, who wouldn't have expected her team to make the state tournament had Sitterud not been there.
"Her leadership got us there. For her to be successful, she had to get her teammates involved," said Kay. "A lot of region teams would box-and-one her, but she would step back and find the open person every time. For her to average 16 points is like 25 on some other teams because we didn't score that much."
Complementing the offensive components of Sitterud's game is her defensive prowess.
She was selected by coaches as the Class 4A co-defensive player of the year, after winning the award last season as well. Playing up front in Lone Peak's halfcourt press, Sitterud and her 5-foot-10-inch frame would often dwarf opposing point guards, helping create plenty of steals and turnovers.
"She's so tall and very strong and tough for the small guards to handle," Kay said. "She tips so many passes that she gets (five) steals but forces about 12 turnovers a game. She's a great defensive player."
Sitterud was ranked the 17th-best guard in the country and second-best in the West by one national recruiting publication, which helped increase the number of calls and letters she received from college recruiters. Inquiries have come from schools across the country, from Rutgers on the East Coast to a number of Pac-10 schools in the West. It also helps that she carries a 3.85 grade point average.
Because Sitterud wants to stay close to her family, only three schools remain on her short list. Those include BYU, Utah and, because she has extended family in the area, reigning Pac-10 champion Oregon.
Sitterud's senior season almost wasn't going to happen in Utah. Her parents were called to preside over an LDS mission beginning in July, prompting thoughts that Sitterud might go with them if the mission was to be stateside.
Once it was determined her parents were going to Venezuela though, Sitterud decided she would go with her parents for just the summer, helping college coaches rack up loads of frequent flyer miles when taking their home visits. She would then return to Lone Peak for her final year of her high school campaign.
The problems she creates for other teams prompted one opposing coach to jokingly mutter at the state tournament, "I wish her parents were already gone, and Lana with them."
She'll be returning though, being the thorn in every opponent's side, and looking to help the Knights earn another state championship.