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GIRLS HOOP MVPS WERE ALL CENTERS OF ATTENTION

A powerful inside game often is the key to basketball championships. It certainly was during the 1991-92 girls high school season.

While the four Deseret News Most Valuable Players for the 1991-92 girls basketball season didn't necessarily want to be the centers of attention, they all happen to be star centers on their teams. Not coincidentally, each led her respective school to a state title.Earning MVP honors are Mountain View's Raegan Scott, Tooele's Shannon Lopez, Kanab's Jessica Cooper and Enterprise's Cherri Shurtliff.

Scott, a 6-foot-3 junior, edged teammate Karrie Henry, a forward, for the MVP accolade. Scott led the Bruins to an undefeated season and a second straight 4A championship by averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and two assists. She's also an intimidating shot blocker. In fact, she recorded 21 blocks in a single game against American Fork during the regular season.

"She's a good offensive player, but her defense was probably more important to us because she makes opponents change their offenses because of her jumping ability, quickness and shot blocking," Mountain View coach Dave Houle said.

Scott still has another year of high school ball remaining, but already college coaches are salivating over the prospect of her playing for their programs. She's being recruited by schools across the nation.

"One college coach told me that, as a junior, she's the second- or third-best high school center in the nation and that she may even be the best center if she continues to improve as a senior," Houle said. "She's very coachable and has everything you'd want from a power player."

Tooele ran over the competition this year, finishing with the 3A state championship and a 23-1 overall mark. Much of that success can be attributed to the fine play of 6-foot-1 senior center Lopez.

Lopez averaged team highs in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (9.2 rpg) but was perhaps even more valuable for her attitude, according to coach Susan Rydalch.

"Shannon was important to our team for her leadership," Rydalch said. "She has the biggest heart and is just a super kid to coach. She's so competitive and she helps her teammates be competitive. She's a hard worker and usually stayed after practice for an hour just working on her shot."

The 2A MVP award goes to Cooper, who helped Kanab peak at the right time. Despite finishing the year with an unspectacular 12-10 record, the Cowgirls put it together to win the state championship.

Cooper, a 5-10 junior center, did her part all year, averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds per outing.

"Jessica is a complete ballplayer," Kanab coach Arlyn Hafen said. "She has good quickness, shoots well, is a great rebounder and blocked shots for us. She's not really vocal, but she was a quiet leader for us with her play."

Enterprise won its second 1A title in three years with senior center Shurtliff leading the way. Shurtliff scored an average of 23 points to go along with 14 rebounds and three steals per outing.

"She is just a very intelligent player who is a pleasure to coach," Wolves coach Stan Holt said of Shurtliff. "She's a good all-around athlete and a terrific team player."