THE HARD FACTS: Coaches made a great choice
Floored. That is the best way to describe the feeling of opening the Class 2A girls basketball all-state team email. Honestly, I thought the coaches would get it wrong. But, in the end I think the voting for the Player of the Year went down the way it should have.
Keesha Sarman, a junior, was lights out for Union all season long. Her ball handling, ability to score inside and rebounding helped the Bobcats finish the season 26-4. Three of the early season losses were against Pilot Rock — with one coming in a non-league game.
But, Union got over the hump against the Rockets in the postseason tournament to clinch the No. 1 seed out of the Blue Mountain Conference.
It’s a pretty impressive thing when you sit back and think about it. Teams are trying to stop Sarman. The players around her are good. But think LeBron back in the Cleveland days. There wasn’t another go-to guy on that Cavaliers team. You knew the ball was going to be in his hands when the game was on the line, just like when Union needs a shot, Sarman will be the one to shoot it.
But, LeBron was still able to make a run to the NBA finals. Sarman did the equivalent last year — falling to Regis in the state title game.
Their talent can overcome a lot of things.
Sarman’s big negative game came late in the season. In the opening round of the state tournament, the Bobcats fell to Western Mennonite. On that team, sophomore Emma Gibb, the other part of the Player of the Year award.
To most people around the state that just see Sarman’s statline of 20 points per, and see that she’s 5-foot-6 assume that those points come from the outside. However, 90 percent of Sarman’s scoring is done in the paint. That’s why the match-up against Western Mennonite was a perfect storm.
Another media outlet claimed it was the player guarding Sarman man-to-man that held her to six points on 1-of-12 shooting. But, that’s someone that doesn’t see her play night in and night out. Sure, Western Mennonite has talented guard play, but it was the ability to throw up a box-and-one that most other teams in the state can’t that slowed Sarman down.
Gibb is a 6-foot-2 post. Emily Loyd, standing at 6-foot-2 was also camped out on the opposite low block from Gibb. Kari Louthan, also at 6-foot-2 formed a triangle at the free-throw line. That meant if Sarman was going to score in the paint, there would be two towers in the paint to stop her.
Gibb on the other hand, had no one in the paint that could stop her on the offensive end. She had an efficient 7-of-10 shooting night, and finished the game with 17 points.
But, Sarman was right back to form in the following two games. That helped Union bring home the fourth-place trophy — scoring 31 and 17 points, respectively.
Late season hiccups are bad for NCAA tournament bound teams, and I thought the same might be true for Sarman’s pursuit of her second consecutive Player of the Year award.
Now, we’ll have to wait and see what Union and Sarman has in store for next season.