Thomas named league’s MVP
Bear River’s Briana Thomas earned the highest honor the Sierra Foothill League has to offer when she was voted most valuable player by league coaches last week.
Not bad for a kid who picked up her first basketball six years ago.
“In seventh grade, my mom made me try out for team. I really didn’t want to,” the senior center said. “I wasn’t a very social person.”
Thomas, who leads the SFL champ and Sac-Joaquin Section Division III top-seeded Lady Bruins in eight categories, was caught off guard by her selection.
“I was shocked. I thought there were other people in the league who deserved it more,” she said. “I’m ecstatic.”
Teammates Cassie Smith and Meaghan Noud, who also earned All-SFL first-team honors, disagreed.
“They chose her because she’s just unstoppable (down low),” Smith said. “There isn’t a player who can deal with her ability to get to the basket.”
Bear River head girls basketball coach Duwaine Ganskie has had a front-row seat as the two-year starter, who will play basketball for the Air Force Academy next year, has grown into a force in the paint.
“Everybody knows how tough the SFL is, and to be elected as its best player is quite an honor. She didn’t lead the league in scoring, but she did so many things with her rebounding, passing and scoring,” Ganskie said. “I think the reason she got MVP was that other teams had to prepare first for her. And they realized how tough it was to stop her from dominating a game.”
Thomas, whose 24 rebounds versus Roseville this season is one shy of Kylee Keroher’s single-game school record, joins the short list of Lady Bruin legends who have earned league most valuable player honors.
Keroher (1998) was the last Lady Bruin to be voted the SFL’s most valuable player. Michelle St. Clair was the league’s best in 1996.
Honey Ramirez (1995), Jenny Shayani (1994) and Brandi Ashmore (1991) were each voted tops in the Golden Empire League.
Noud, the Lady Bruins’ leading scorer, wowed coaches with her ability to run the floor, defend down low, and drain the three-pointer.
“She’s just got the ability to do everything. She can play defense and score when we need it, She’s just an all-around player,” Smith said.
Noud’s selection was a no-brainer for Ganskie.
“Meaghan was an obvious choice. Some of the coaches actually thought she should have been the MVP. It was a toss up between her and Bri,” he said. “She was actually second to Bri in the MVP voting.”
Smith took her spot among the league’s best on the strength of her defense.
“Cassie’s choice was a real interesting one. I think coaches around the league finally recognized the value of a great defender,” he said. “We were the best defensive team in the league, and she was our spiritual and physical leader out there on the defensive end; and they honored her for that.”
Nicole Scott, who plays behind Thomas, and Amy Pistone were voted to the second team.
“Nicole could have been a starter on any other team in the league. If given that chance to start, she probably could have made the all-league team in her own right,” Ganskie said. “And everybody knows Amy’s value to our team. She switched roles this year, moving to the shooting guard, and we’ve just gotten better.”
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