Shortly after favored Fremont lost last year’s 6A girls state championship game to Bingham, coach Lisa Dalebout said Emma Calvert came up to her to try to apologize.

Dalebout was having none of it.

“I’m like, ‘Oh Emma, that’s not how this game goes. We don’t do it like that,’” said Dalebout.

Losing guard Halle Duft to an ACL tear in the semifinal certainly didn’t help, but sometimes you just tip your hat to an opponent and vow to get better for the next time. Calvert took that to heart, and when injury adversity struck again during her senior season she was mentally up to the challenge to not only lead Fremont to the state championship, but do so in dominant fashion.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high school kid be as consistent as Emma is. My husband’s called her Steady Eddy since she was a sophomore,” said Dalebout, whose team finished the season with a perfect 26-0 record.

Calvert, a BYU signee, finished her career 10th on the state’s all-time leading scorer list with 1,641 points, and has been named the 2021 Deseret News Ms. Basketball recipient.

After being named 6A MVP in leading Fremont to a state title as a freshman, it was an award that always seemed like an inevitability with Calvert’s career trajectory.

With the talent on Fremont’s roster this season, a state title seemed like an inevitability as well. Not only is Calvert the 74th-ranked senior on ESPN’s top 100 list for the class of 2021, but teammate Timea Gardiner ranked No. 4 on the 2022 list and teammate Maggie Mendelson No. 21 on the 2023 list.

With all three standing over 6-foot-3, on paper who could stop them?

A brilliant game plan could, which Bingham proved last year. So sparked by the work ethic of the senior Calvert, Fremont’s players got busy this summer despite the annoyances of COVID-19.

“I think we all had the motivation, but we had to put in the work to get to where we needed to be ’cause that doesn’t just come with motivation,” said Calvert.

Intense conditioning began way back in July, and even though she wasn’t one of the players who puked as a result, there was definitely the occasional puking as Dalebout pushed her players with the backdrop of the Bingham loss.

When the season finally began, Fremont started destroying teams immediately. With the stars sharing the ball night in and night out, through the first 12 games of the season Fremont was winning by an average of 40.6 points a game. Calvert was her steady self throughout, averaging 12.5 points and pulling down 6.3 rebounds.

High school girls basketball: Fremont caps off undefeated season with a 6A state championship win

Then the adversity hit. Gardiner, who was leading the team in scoring and may be the biggest recruit in the history of Utah, injured her knee against Weber on Jan. 19. It wasn’t an ACL injury, but doctors recommended surgery to avoid potential overuse injuries down the road.

Calvert immediately picked up the slack without Gardiner on the floor, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds in that Weber game on Jan. 19.

It was a theme that repeated itself game after game. In the 12 games when the triple towers played together, Fremont won by an average of 40.6 ppg. In the 11 games that followed prior to the quarterfinals when only two were available, the dominance didn’t skip a beat with a 42.1 point margin of victory.

The consistency of “Steady Eddy” was the catalyst as her scoring average ballooned from 12.5 points before Gardiner’s injury to 21.2 points after.

“She never acted selfish or bugged about it when she was sharing the ball, and then when she started scoring the points that we needed her to score to be successful at the end of the region schedule and state tournament she could do it easily,” said Dalebout.

Fremont’s Emma Calvert (25) and teammates hoist the trophy as they celebrate their win over Herriman during the 6A girls basketball championship game at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Fremont won 63-43. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The ridiculous margin of victory throughout the season was certainly exaggerated by playing so many games in a below average Region 1. Calvert and all of her teammates knew the 6A playoffs would be the ultimate test, when they’d finally be matched up against more talented teams who could execute a game plan and pull off an upset.

Instead, Fremont won its final three playoff games against Skyridge, Bingham and Herriman by an average of 13 points. Calvert averaged 22.3 points and 10 rebounds in those three games.

In the championship against Herriman, Fremont pulled away in the second half for the 63-43 win as Calvert finished with 30 points after going 16 of 17 from the free-throw line.

“To have your post be the best free-throw shooting option on the floor is really unusual, you generally say don’t give it to them, keep it in the guards hands,” said Dalebout.

It was the type of subtle dominance that confirmed just how hard Calvert has worked over the past four years to evolve into a polished player who can help BYU immediately as a 6-foot-4, stretch four.

Dalebout said that during Calvert’s freshman season she was the worst varsity free-throw shooter on the team, someone who attempted just one 3-pointer all season.

During her senior season she shot 76% (64 of 84) from the free-throw line and 40% (27 of 67) from the 3-point line.

“She’s going to be a really good college player because it doesn’t matter who she’s playing against and what level, she’s just that emotionally mature. She never gets too high and never gets too low.” — Fremont coach Lisa Dalebout, on Emma Calvert

With great finishing in the paint and then a great midrange game, Calvert has the versatility to be a big contributor at the next level.

“She’s going to be a really good college player because it doesn’t matter who she’s playing against and what level, she’s just that emotionally mature. She never gets too high and never gets too low,” said Dalebout.

Calvert’s likely more ready for college because of the personnel she was fortunate enough to play with at Fremont. At 6-foot-4, Calvert naturally played center her freshman and sophomore years, but it was a position the 6-foot-5 Mendelson played more frequently over the past two years.

“In college I’m probably not going to be the center, so I think it was really good that I had Maggie this year and last year, she was more inside so I could develop playing outside the key and my shooting got a lot better since my freshman year,” said Calvert.

She’ll be starting over as a freshman again at BYU next season, but she’ll likely be one of the most consistent contributors for four years in college just like she was for four years in high school.