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High school girls basketball: Classification MVPs rose to the occasion for their teams

This year’s girls basketball MVPs, from left to right, include Fremont’s Emma Calvert (6A), Highland’s Kaija Glasker (5A), Cedar City’s Mayci Torgerson (4A), Judge’s Teya Sidberry (3A), Millard’s Kobree Penney (2A) and Rich’s McKina Stacey (1A).
Deseret News and courtesy photos

SALT LAKE CITY — Each of the six Deseret News girls basketball MVPs brought excitement, positive energy and skill to their respective teams. They brought their best every night to lead their team to a state championship or deep into the postseason. Each player made their teammates better and their coaches lives’ easier.

6A MVP: Emma Calvert, Fremont

Fremont’s Emma Calvert, the 6A MVP, goes to the hoop ahead of Skyridge’s Keylee Melling in a 6A girls basketball semifinal game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Emma Calvert is the definition of consistency. Over the 2019-20 season, Calvert averaged 14.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game, leading her team to the state championship game.

According to her coach, Lisa Dalebout, Calvert broke the state field goal percentage record as she shot over 67% from the floor this season.

“Emma is always really steady emotionally. She gives you really consistent play, game in and game out. She does a good job on both ends of the floor. She’s a really good rebounder. She’s an awesome shot blocker, but her gift is her ability to finish at the basket,” Dalebout said. “She’s one of the best finishers I’ve ever coached.”

Calvert improved her game everywhere, including her outside shooting and free-throw shooting.

“She did a good job at working really hard on that part of her game in the summer, so it was fun watching her shoot the 3 and be really successful,” Dalebout said.

Calvert leads by example and makes sure to look out for everybody on the team.

“Emma is a really outgoing, cute human that does a really good job with people. She is a really good leader. She is more of a mother, she looks out for everybody and makes sure everybody is taken care of, but she also is a really fierce competitor and wants to win,” Dalebout said. “She’s a really good balance of what you want in a player.”

Calvert was named a team captain as a sophomore and again this year as a junior.

“She is an easygoing person and she looks out for everybody. On the floor, she’s really encouraging and she stays really positive. She does a really good job at encouraging all of her teammates. She’s a really good leader,” Dalebout said.

Calvert ranks 44th on ESPN’s 2021 “Super 60” college basketball recruiting rankings and as she raises her level every year, she is sure to attract a lot of attention from college coaches.

“I love coaching Emma. She’s fun to coach in games, but she’s even funner to coach in practice. She likes to be challenged and she likes to work hard,” Dalebout said. “She’s an incredible basketball player, but she’s a better person than she is a basketball player, an incredible student, too.”

5A MVP: Kaija Glasker, Highland

Highland’s Kaija Glasker, the 5A MVP, plays against Springville in the 5A State Basketball Championship in the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Highland won 46-34.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Long before she led Highland to the 5A state championship this year, Kaija Glasker built trust between her and her teammates.

“She took the girls under her wing and was so positive with them, saying ‘We’ve got this girls, we’ve got to work hard.’ Just as a leader, she just started facilitating the ball in terms of when she got it, she didn’t have to score, she would give it to the other girls when they were open,” Highland head coach Kurt Schneider said. “She got everyone involved and she trusted her teammates.”

That trust and leadership paid off big time, as time and time again, Glasker made the necessary plays for the Rams to win.

“She made big plays, big rebounds. When we needed something, it seemed like she was there and she made the play or else was part of making that play, whether it was making a rebound to an open person or an extra pass to someone that was open, or a big defensive play,” Schneider said. “She was able to do anything and everything for the team.”

Schneider was especially impressed with Glasker’s play in the championship game against Springville. Glasker had 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead all scorers in the title game.

Glasker also impressed with her defense, making timely defensive plays in close games.

“Some of the blocks and defensively, some of things that she did stuck out. I thought about it throughout the season and she did make a lot of defensive stands, whether it was a blocked shot or rebound,” Schneider said.

Glasker finished the season averaging 13.9 points, 8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

“Kaija is just so good for the school, the community, her family,” Schneider said.

4A MVP: Mayci Torgerson, Cedar City

Green Canyon’s Jordyn Thompson guards Cedar’s Mayci Torgerson, the 4A MVP, in the 4A girls basketball state semifinals at the Dee Events Center in Ogden on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Cedar won 68-61.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

If there’s one word to describe Cedar City’s Mayci Torgerson, it would be competitive.

“As far as the personality, Mayci is probably one of the most competitive people I’ve ever coached. I’ve been coaching 22 years. I’ve coached boys and girls, she’s probably one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached. She is a perfectionist,” Cedar City head coach Corry Nielsen said.

The 4A MVP and three-time state champion can also be described as tenacious.

“Mayci is a tenacious player. She is full speed ahead all the time, whether it’s in practice or she’s doing an individual workout. Whatever she does, she is very tenacious. She is unafraid. She’s unafraid of any kind of situation. She wants the ball at the very end of the game in a tight ballgame,” Nielsen said.

Against Desert Hills in January, Torgerson got fouled in a game that was tied with a minute to go but missed both of her free throws. She got the ball back and held the ball, telling her coach that she wanted the ball in her hands and to get fouled again. She knocked down both of her free throws.

Torgerson is a great teammate, on and off the court..

“She’s a very focused, very serious kind of player on the court, but off the court, she jokes, she’s a fantastic teammate. She wants her teammates to get all the praise and be successful. She’s a great teammate, she’s a great friend on the team,” Nielsen said. “She would be the first one to tell you that she has had success because of her teammates.”

Torgerson, who led the Reds with 16.2 points per game, also averaged 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.4 steals per game. She also took pride in her defense.

“She didn’t talk about her own scoring — she didn’t talk about that — she wanted to guard the other team’s best player every single game,” Nielsen said.

3A MVP: Teya Sidberry, Judge

Judge Memorial’s Teya Sidberry, the 3A MVP, blocks a shot against South Sevier during the 3A girls championship basketball game at the Lifetime Activities Center in Taylorsville on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.
Deseret News

Teya Sidberry did it all for Judge.

Sidberry led the state in scoring, putting up 23.3 points per game. She was also among the leaders in 3A in rebounds and steals, pulling down 9.8 rebounds and stealing the ball 4.7 times per game, in addition to 1.7 assists per game.

“When Teya plays basketball, not only offensively but defensively, she can take over a game and change whatever direction she wants it to go in. She is capable of scoring — she led the state in scoring — I believe she was first or second in steals, she was up there in blocks and rebounds. She can pretty much do anything she wanted to when she wanted to do it,” Judge head coach Josh Pike said.

Pike said that Sidberry reminds him of one of basketball’s greats in her play.

“She always looked to help each other out. She kind of reminds me a lot of LeBron James in a way to a certain point as far as trying to get her teammates involved and then knowing when she has to take over, she’ll take over,” Pike said.

Sidberry’s crowning moment this year came when she hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Grantsville to send the Bulldogs to the state championship game.

“The 3-pointer that sent us to the state final,” Pike said, recounting his favorite moment. “I think Teya had something special in every game, to be honest. What’s exciting about her is that you never know what you’re going to get until she brings it. She could just be a normal offensive and defensive player and then all of the sudden she has two or three steals and 12 points. She’s definitely something special.”

2A MVP: Kobree Penney, Millard

Deseret News 2A MVP Kobree Penney of Millard
Provided by Bailee Holt

Kobree Penney was a versatile player for Millard as they won the 2A state title this season.

“Her all-around athleticism. She can play guard for us, she can play forward, she could be our center. She’s just a threat in any position that she’s in as well as just basketball knowledge — knowing where people are at on the court, what is working defensively, what we need to try offensively. Just an all-around good player,” Millard head coach Melanie Bassett said.

Penney was one of the senior leaders for the Eagles, helping to uplift her teammates.

“She’s definitely one of the leaders on the team, with her fun, bubbly personality. She’s always talking to people, she’s laughing with them, she’s always uplifting. If someone was having a down day, you would always see her over there, talking to them, cheering them on, cheering them up. She gets along great with everyone,” Bassett said.

Penney’s most crucial performance came in the state championship against North Summit, when she scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds, three assists and a steal. She had a block that sent the contest into overtime.

“It was great to coach her over the last three years that I’ve been there as the coach. I’ll definitely miss her and I know the team will miss her as well. We’re thankful she was on our team and grateful for her hard work and effort that she put in day in and day out and even outside of practice — she did a lot of hours on her own,” Bassett said. “It definitely showed in her play.”

1A MVP: McKina Stacey, Rich

Deseret News 1A MVP, Rich High School’s McKina Stacey
Provided by Rich High School

McKina Stacey led the way for Rich as they got to the 1A championship game this year.

“She’s a natural leader. She’s very positive, very competitive. She leads by example. She’s a great person to have on the court and off the court. She’s just a great individual,” Rich head coach Cody Lundgren said.

Stacey led Rich with 18.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 4.2 steals per game.

“She sees the floor very well. She’s always active, whether she has the ball in her hand or whether she doesn’t have the ball in her hands, offensively. Defensively, she works tirelessly to shut usually their best ball handler down and then she rebounds the heck out of the ball. She fills up the stat line, she works her butt off,” Lundgren said.

Stacey is a well-rounded athlete and is hard for opposing teams to slow down.

“It’s hard to pick a favorite moment of hers because every game she is such a leader, she runs the offense very well. She’s hard to defend, so she gets to the paint, she gets good looks for her teammates too. That’s a very valuable thing for a point guard,” Lundgren said.

One of her best games this year was a 29-point outburst, including three 3-pointers, 13 rebounds, 1 assists and five steals in a win over Water Canyon in the 1A semifinals.

“It’s been a great opportunity to coach her. I’ve been able to coach her since her sixth-grade year. She’s awesome, on and off the court, in all aspects of the game, she’s a great player,” Lundgren said.