All-state basketball honors for Monument Valley, Whitehorse athletes

San Juan County is well represented on All-state basketball teams for the 2019-20 season. The Deseret News released its annual list of the top Utah high school basketball players on March 25 and 26 based on coaches’ votes.
Ten players were chosen from San Juan, Monument Valley, and Whitehorse high schools. This week, we’ll feature the 1A honorees from Monument Valley and Whitehorse.

Girls 1A First Team
Jamika Nelson
Monument Valley 5-8 Senior Guard – 20.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 6.0 assists per game, 2.5 steals per game
Assistant Coach Doug Freed said, “Jamika is a once-in-a-generation player; we won’t see a player like her again for a long time. She is the rare player who can do just about anything she wants with a basketball in her hand.
“The game comes easily to her, and she loves the game. If it has something to do with basketball, she wants to do it, study it, practice it. She genuinely enjoys developing her skills.
“She played in the shadow of older girls with strong personalities her first three years, so this year was learning leadership.
“She improved dramatically over the course of the year and was, without question, the team leader on and off the court by the end of the season.
“Jamika is also a dedicated student who works hard to get her schoolwork done. As with many of our students, it’s double hard to do well in school when your language skills aren’t like those who grow up in English-only households.
“She will need to work extra hard in college, but I’m sure she will.
“Jamika was the team comedian, quick with a smile and a joke. Truth be told, both [head coach Terri] James and I miss her as a young woman as much as we miss her basketball.
“She’s still a little unsure of herself, very shy, but sweet. I have high hopes for her future.

Girls 1A Second Team
Tanisha Cowboy
Monument Valley 5-9 Senior Forward – 11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.0 spg
Assistant Coach Doug Freed said, “Tanisha is the player who explained to the younger players what we weren’t successfully articulating as coaches.
“It was common to see her in practice moving a younger player to the right position or explaining a basketball concept. This was the year Tanisha started to emerge from her shell.
“She was very shy and quiet a year ago, but developed into a solid team leader. She comes from a family that loves basketball, and it shows in her play.
“Despite not being very tall, her footwork and strength made her formidable near the basket.
“Academically, Tanisha is another hard worker, diligent with her work. She too is faced with obstacles most kids aren’t, but she strives to overcome.
“She was so shy last year, I hardly got to know her as a person off the court. This year, however, she gained confidence and turned into a kind and funny young lady. She has many friends and stays very close to her family.
“Coaching at Monument Valley involves a great many long (interminable) bus rides to far away schools for games.
“While I am not a fan of riding on school buses, I will always cherish my memories of bouncing along a lonely road listening to Jamika and Tanisha somewhere in the back of the bus giggling insouciantly, sounding as if they hadn’t a care in the world.
“And of course there are the many memories of watching Tanisha snatch a rebound and rocket an outlet pass to a sprinting Jamika while helpless defenders lagged hopelessly behind. You bet I will miss that.”

Girls 1A Honorable Mention
Bahazhoni Filfred
Whitehorse 5-4 Junior Guard – 19.5 ppg
Head Coach Tiona Grant said, “Bahazhoni is a determined athlete. She excels on and off the court and is on the honor roll for her school.
“As a defender, she is a balanced player who would be quick at trying to steal the ball but advanced where she would hustle back on defense if she got beat. She never gives up on a play.
“Zhoni is technically a combo guard capable of running an offense and thriving as an off-ball scorer. She has that quick step, always wanting to drive to the basket and go up strong every time.
“If she were too blocked, that would not stop her from driving on bigger defenders. She is a great asset to the Whitehorse High School girls basketball team with her desire to win.
“Being able to play with her sister was an experience she treasured the most.
“Zhoni was one of the captains on the team and brought her leadership to another level this season. Other players would listen to her because she brought a lot to the team.
“With her basketball IQ and knowledge of the game, she helped the other players understand why we needed to run a specific play.
“Her fellow players would lean on her leadership, and when she was not doing so well in a game, they would encourage her because they needed her on the court.
“At the end of the season she understood her role on the team, and hopefully next year she is ready to take complete leadership of the team.
“Overall, Zhoni is a greatly determined, striving, and academically excellent athlete. She deserves everything she works hard at achieving.”

Boys 1A Honorable Mention
Devon Slim
Monument Valley 5-8 Senior Forward – 12.8 ppg, 2.0 apg
Head coach Merrill Smith said Slim was a hard worker and a leader who helped “pull the team through” during the 2019-2020 season.
One of Slim’s key contributions was his strong outside shooting; he led the Cougars in three-point baskets.

Editor's note: In our list of the 1A All-state basketball players from San Juan County in the April 8 issue of the San Juan Record, we regretfully omitted Whitehorse senior Daan Filfred. Next week we will give her the credit she is due. The Deseret News named Filfred to the 1A Girls Third Team on March 25 based on coaches’ votes.

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