Girls Basketball / Cheerleading All-State
Two San Juan County student-athletes were named to girls basketball All-State teams for the 2021-2022 winter sports season.
The Deseret News released its annual list of the top Utah high school athletes recently based on coaches’ votes from a list of nominated players from each team.
In addition, Kaitlyn Musselman is the first-ever Monticello High School cheerleader to receive All-State honors of any kind. She was named to the Utah Cheer Team Coaches Association 1A-4A All-State Team this season.
The San Juan Record is proud to present each of the local honorees with a photo and comments from their respective head coach.
ALYAH BLACKWATER – 1A THIRD TEAM
Monument Valley Junior Guard – 10.5 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 6.0 assists per game, 4.9 steals per game
Head Coach Doug Freed: “Alyah Blackwater’s leadership extends far beyond the basketball court. As the point guard for the Monument Valley High School girls team, she led her team to an undefeated Region 23 season, averaging more than six assists per game along the way.
“Her play earned her third-team All-State honors. She also was a captain of the volleyball team and is the president of her junior class. Combine that with her status as a top student and the result is an accomplished, well-rounded young woman.
“Blackwater comes by her basketball skills naturally. Her mother and aunt both played on the first MVHS team to ever qualify for the state tournament. Her older sister, also a basketball player, was the first to make the infant Blackwater laugh. In Navajo tradition, Blackwater thus took on some of the traits of the sister.
“The Navajo traditions are important to Blackwater who said she learned the Navajo ways and teachings from her mother. ‘I try to be respectful,’ she explained. ‘Everything on earth has feelings and is alive, so I try to show respect.’
“Her leadership skills also emanate from her family. She grew up fast while taking care of a younger sister and nieces and nephews where she learned to make decisions around the house.
“Blackwater said she started playing basketball in fifth grade. Her natural ability quickly got her invited to play on various teams in various tournaments, including on coed teams. Blackwater’s teams generally were winners, and that is where she honed her competitive spirit.
“As her skills improved, she naturally grew in to leadership positions. ‘The team sometimes depends on me,’ she said. ‘I feel that, so you have to step up.’”
1A HONORABLE MENTION
Whitehorse Senior Forward – 13.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 3.0 spg
Head Coach Joni Dickson: “On behalf of this year's coaching staff, we are very honored and proud to have had Kailee on our team as a Senior Captain. She may seem quiet when you first meet her, but she is very funny and outgoing.
“Her performance, both academically and athletically, speaks for all the hard work she has put into her future. She has such great academic and athletic traits that will assist in helping her succeed in whatever she chooses to pursue in her future.
“Kailee is an outstanding athlete who works hard and never gives up. She leads mostly by example. She was our leading scorer this season and with the combination of her and her teammates’ hard work, our season was a success.
“We are excited to watch Kailee apply her talents to her school and future career. She will always be a part of the Whitehorse Raiders family and we are very proud of her academic and athletic success in her high school career.”
UTAH CHEER TEAM COACHES ASSOCIATION ALL-STATE
First-ever Monticello All-State cheerleader, One of 16 members of the 1A-4A Team
Head Coach Kerri Murdock: “Kaitlyn has always been self-motivated and hard-working. She took it upon herself to try out for the Utah All-State Cheer team and was the only one selected from 1A. She has always put in the extra time and effort to make sure she is doing the best she can.
“Kaitlyn is always looking for ways to improve her skills and setting goals for herself and doesn’t let things stop her from reaching them. She is quick to make decisions and is always willing to help others succeed.
“[Assistant coach] Laikyn [Pehrson] and I have felt very fortunate to have been able to coach Kaitlyn her senior year of high school. We know she will take on any obstacle she faces head on and find a way around it.
“Kaitlyn's hard work ethic and dedication will help her achieve great things in life and we can't wait to see where she goes next. We wish her all the best!”