For the past 16 years, 24 of stateís best high school senior basketball players have converged at North Idaho College for the All-State All Star game. From there, the seniors are divided into two teams, the Metro (Boise) and the Region (everywhere else), and scrimmage ó complete with officials, snazzy uniforms and a broadcast for everyone to watch online.
Clark Fork senior guard Brooke Stevens deserves to play in that game.
Yes, she plays for a 1A Division II school. And yes, the Lady Cats played most of their games away from the bright lights of Coeur díAlene and Boise.
But few players in the state have put up statistics as impressive as Stevens has this season. Even fewer made an impact on both ends of the floor like Stevens.
This is why I put her atop my five-woman shortlist for this honor. As a journalist, itís only fitting to reveal through these words why Stevens should be a part of the all-star game.
With averages like 15.3 points, 4.5 assists, 6.9 steals and four rebounds per game, making the case for Stevens becomes a no-brainer.
Now, this doesnít mean Clark Fork is a one-player show. The Lady Catsí rotation has oscillated between seven and ten players this season. Every member of the Lady Catsí starting five has been a leader in at least one statistical category this season. However, Stevens has been Clark Forkís most versatile and important player. Sheís a true swiss-army knife type player; the numbers prove it.
Of all Stevensís stats, averaging 6.9 steals per game might be the most impressive of the bunch. Few players can claim to be triple-double threats on any given night; fewer can be potential triple-double players with steals.
Stevens is an absolute dynamo on defense.
Her skills shine the brightest in Clark Forkís press, in which she essentially plays like a free safety. Her ability to anticipate passes, combined with her athleticism, make her defense an integral part of Clark Forkís success this season.
Stevensís defense doesnít just involve picking off passes. Sheís persistent in her on-ball defense, has lateral quickness to fight through screens and react on switches and her wingspan make her a skilled all-around defender. No matter where she plays at the next leveló several schools have expressed interest, yet Stevens is undecided ó her work ethic on defense will be her calling card.
Naturally, Stevensís defense has turned into plenty of offensive opportunities for herself and her teammates.
Although she projects as a shooting guard, Stevens has had to step into the point guard role for Clark Fork this season. Despite the change, Stevens adapted seamlessly by only averaging only 1.8 turnovers per game ó and keep in mind Stevens regularly plays all 32 minutes.
Because of this, her field goal percentages have dipped slightly by her standards ó while earning the attention of teamsí best defenders, Stevens shot 46.6 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from three ó but her sacrifice has helped Clark Fork improve its record from 6-10 to 7-6 this year. As all scoring point guards do, Stevens dexterously balances the fine line between taking over when to defer to her teammates, and when to take over games.
In a sense, Stevensís game is all about delicate balances.
Watching Stevens play frenetic defense on one end, then precise offense on the other exemplifies the sportís grace and power. Stevens controls the game. She bends the pace of the game at will.
Just as Stevensís versatility helps her excel in all facets of the game, the all-star gameís Region team would excel with Stevens. Let her play.