In September, first-year coach Candace Thornton got a call from the Mountain Crest administration about Karlee Kartchner.
The senior forward was in the gym practicing after hours — but she wasn’t allowed to be there.
“It was during one of the times when we aren’t allowed to coach,” Thornton said. “I think they thought I was letting Karlee in, but she was going on her own. I actually had to kick her out of the gym.”
Kartchner came at the 4A field like a tornado this season, leading the classification in scoring and rebounding this year after being somewhat obscured by other great Mountain Crest players as an underclassman. She was a double-double machine, getting 19 this season.
After games, Thornton heard the same thing from opposing coaches: “Where did No. 13 come from?”
“Last year, I was more a defensive different-style player,” Kartchner said. “This year, I knew I had to step up and be more of a scorer for my team.”
Kartchner had a knack for stepping up in big games, most memorably matching Makenzi Morrison point-for-point and finishing with 30 in a win over Alta.
“It got to the point where they put Morrison on Karlee, trying to figure out a way to stop her,” Thornton said. “She will find a way to rise to the occasion.”
Even in a defeat to Springville in the semifinals, Kartchner tried her best to keep the Mustangs alive, getting 25 points and 22 rebounds. And although the loss still stings, there’s a bright future ahead for her at Utah Valley University as a forward.
It’s worth wondering what it might’ve been like to have one more season with Kartchner, the tornado no one saw coming.
“It was crazy,” Thornton said. “I was just glad I was along for the ride.”