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Mya Shannon repeats as top athlete

MORRIS – Last basketball season, Morris’ Mya Shannon was named Morris Herald-News Player of the Year after setting the school record for points in a season.

This year, Shannon put her name all over the Redskin record book, taking the top spot in career scoring (1,558), single-season scoring (551) and single-game scoring (40). That, along with her many other talents on the court, earned her repeat recognition as Morris Herald-News Player of the Year.

She was able to put up points seemingly at will, despite opponents’ best efforts to the contrary. She faced every type of defense imaginable, and still set the single-season scoring record with 551 points, an average of 20.5 points per game. And, standing at 5-foot-7, she also led her team with 9.0 rebounds per game. Add to that averages of 4.0 steals and 2.0 assists a game and you have an all-around dynamo, which is what she has been in her four years as a varsity starter.

“Mya is a relentless basketball player,” Morris coach Kate Carey said. “Nobody plays harder than she does. She spent most the season facing a box-and-1 defense, double teams, or being face guarded and was still able to put up big numbers.

“She is very well respected by her opponents and always displays great sportsmanship. She will be greatly missed in our program, but we are excited for her continued success as she continues her basketball career.”

On Nov. 21, Shannon exploded for 40 points against Plano, breaking the single-game scoring record of 37 she had shared with Julie Jurasits. Later in the year, she broke Jurasits’ career scoring record. And, by the end of the year, she had broken her own single-season scoring mark.

“We saw every kind of defense you can imagine this year,” Shannon said. “We even saw defenses we hadn’t seen before. I think the most unusual was the second half of the Plainfield Central game. They played a triangle defense and had two people follow me everywhere I went. Eventually, I went out and stood near halfcourt and let the rest of the team play 4-on-3. I liked our chances doing that.

“This year was the worst for that kind of thing. In the past, I had Julie Jurasits my freshman year and Meghan Smith and Meghan Jurak my sophomore and junior years.
This year, we had Carli Foddrill hitting some 3-pointers and Paige Valentine driving to the basket and drawing people to her. And Gigi Corban had a real good year in the post, so people had to pay attention to her, too. And, when all else failed, I knew I could go to the basket, get fouled and make my free throws.”

If one game can symbolize Shannon’s season, it was probably the opening game in the Class 3A Herscher Regional. The Redskins defeated Prairie Central, 48-35. And, despite shooting just 1 of 11 from the field in the first half, Shannon finished with a team-high 26 points, shooting 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. She was able to create fast-break opportunities with her rebounding and her defense.

“It’s kind of weird to say that Mya had an off night shooting, but she still ended up with 26 points,” Carey said. “But that’s just the kind of player she is. If she is struggling with her shot, she will find ways to score, whether it’s off of a steal on defense or getting an offensive rebound or driving and getting fouled. She just knows how to put points on the board.”

With all the scoring numbers, it’s easy to look beyond the rest of Shannon’s game. Doing that, however, would not be wise. She led the team in rebounding this season, as well as being the anchor of the defense and the unquestioned floor leader. She was also a smart enough player to rarely get into foul trouble and very rarely left the floor. It’s that coach on the floor role that she may want to cultivate in the future as her career progresses at DePauw University next year.

“I plan on studying kiniesiology,” she said. “I want to be either a physical therapist or physician’s assistant. If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to try coaching. It would be hard to stand on the sideline and not go out there and play, though.”

Next for Shannon is soccer season this spring. She will earn her 12th varsity letter and cap her stellar Redskin athletic career. She knows she will be taking some of her Morris experience with her to college.

“I am going to miss soccer,” she said. “I’ve been playing it my whole life. But, I am excited to get to college and play for the coaches there. It’s going to be nice to just concentrate on one sport, but it’s going to be busy. They condition in August and September and the season starts in October and goes into March. I know they have a period where you have to take two weeks off, but after that, it’s more conditioning.

“I will definitely take some of coach Carey with me. She has been my coach all four years here and our families know each other, so I have known her pretty much my whole life. And coach [Alex] Granger has been around the last three years, too. It’s definitely going to be hard to leave.”

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