4A girls' basketball MVP: Mountain Crest's Karlee Kartchner surprised, dominated
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."