Kaylah Lupoe is a bit shy, has a smile that can break an iceberg let alone the ice, and a nasty streak that disrupts the most cohesive of offenses.
Combine it all and you have the face of Mountain Pointe girls basketball.
The junior forward has been in the middle of the Pride’s resurgence since entering the program and having an immediate impact as a freshman.
This year she helped Mountain Pointe to the Division I state quarterfinals and 26 wins to be named the All-Tribune second team, which is quite the accomplishment with the talent in the East Valley.
It is clear that Lupoe’s all-around game — 12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.0 steals and 50 percent field goal percentage — is only going to get better next season.
“We steer everything (defensively) toward Kaylah,” Pride coach Trevor Neider said earlier this season. “She’s erased a lot of our defensive mistakes and that’s what we want. We know we can get away with things up front because she is going to make up for it down low.”
While Lupoe’s effectiveness can be measured by stats, the same can’t be the said for Chantel Osahor, the St. Mary’s senior who was named the Tribune Player of the Year.
Luckily, there are snippets of proof.
Take the game against Pinnacle on Jan. 21 at the MLK Basketball Classic. A box score was kept, and this was her line in the 63-43 win: 12 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, four steals, two blocks.
The St. Mary’s senior forward is the most unique player in the state and one of its most talented. Her ability to contribute in such various ways has earned her the POY award for the second consecutive season.
In her final high school season, Osahor said she played at a higher level than ever before, feeling confident she averaged a double-double this season.
“I just don’t know if it was points and rebounds or assists and rebounds,” she said.
The Knights were stacked with six Division I-bound players, but Osahor, who is committed to Washington, was the glue.
If teams happened to break St. Mary’s lethal full-court press, she was the one back to snuff out of fast-break opportunities. If they tried to throw over the top of it, she would swoop in like a free safety for the steal.
“A lot of players don’t look away when they pass, and I can see where it’s going,” Osahor said.
On offense, the game’s usually-frenetic pace slowed when she grasped the ball, and her ability to shoot, drive or pass from the top of the key had defenses constantly guessing.
It was a storybook ending to Osahor’s career, as the Knights downed Pinnacle, 49-37, in the Division I championship game to finish off a three-peat. But this one wasn’t easy. St. Mary’s trailed by six points at the half before rallying for the victory.
It capped a tremendous four seasons of varsity action, as she went 110-9 in high school and won 69 of her final 70 games.
“I actually cried,” Osahor said. “It felt like this was the last time I’m going to play with these girls, and to end it like that was the icing on the cake.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-6834 or email@example.com. Staff writer Jason P. Skoda contributed to this story.
All-Tribune First Team
Name School Position Year Comment
Chantel Osahor St. Mary’s F Sr. POY dominated in variety of ways; committed to Washington
Sydney Wiese Pinnacle G Sr. Heart of D1 runners-up averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, 2.5 steals, shot 51%, 43& from 3
Casey Rarrick Saguaro G Jr. Averaged 18.4 points, 4.1 steals, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists for D-II champs
Katie Werner Xavier F Sr. Yale-bound star averaged 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.2 steals, shot 52%
Courtney Ekmark St. Mary’s G Jr. UConn commit averaged 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals for D-I champions
Player of the Year: Chantel Osahor, St. Mary’s
Coach of the Year: Chris Young, Saguaro — The Sabercats entered the Division II state tournament as a No. 8 seed and dispatched Flowing Wells in the finals for the title.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name School Position Year Comment
Dominique Williams St. Mary’s G Sr. Spearheaded the Knights’ deadly full-court press; UCLA commit
Aliyah Dickson Hamilton F Sr. Averaged 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.4 steals, 3.1 assists for D1 semifinalists
Katherine Hamilton Dobson F Sr. San Diego commit averaged 12.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.8 steals
Julia Barcello Seton Catholic F Jr. Averaged 12.5 points, 11.5 rebounds to lead Sentinels to D2 semis
Kaylah Lupoe Mountain Pointe F Jr. Averaged 12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.0 steals, shot 50%
Honorable mention (locals only)
Desert Vista: Kristine Anigwe, So., F; Emily Wolph, Jr., G; Mountain Pointe: Caitlyn Hetrick; Sr.