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POY Watch: Record-setting Kennedy Kirkpatrick grabs POY attention


The window on the Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our USA TODAY team that administers the program’s selection process.

Kennedy Kirkpatrick
Senior guard, Free State (Lawrence, Kan.)

2012-13 Team record: 10-3 (Class 6A)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 9 in Class 6A by USA TODAY
2011-12 Points per game: 18.4
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 4.3
2011-12 Assists per game: 3.2

Collegiate destination: Bowling Green

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: A returning Class 6A First Team All-State selection as named by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, Kirkpatrick led the Firebirds to a school-record 16 victories as a junior last season. The 5-foot-10 senior guard set single-season school records for points (393), field goals (113) and 3-point field goals (53) in 2011-12 in addition to eclipsing Free State’s single-season assist record (90) as a sophomore.

Katelyn Loecker
Senior forward, McPherson (Kan.)

2012-13 Team record: 11-3 (Class 4A)
2012-13 Team standing: Ranked No. 5 in Class 4A by USA TODAY
2011-12 Points per game: 16.2
2011-12 Rebounds per game: 8.5
2011-12 Steals per game: 3.5

Collegiate destination: Oklahoma State

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Loecker led the Bullpups to a 25-1 record and the Class 4A state championship last season as a junior. Also a returning Class 4A First Team All-State selection as named by the KBCA, the 6-foot senior forward is ranked among the top 100 national recruits in the Class of 2013 as rated by Blue Star Basketball.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls Basketball Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are other candidates in the conversation throughout the 2012-13 campaign.

Kelsey Brooks: Senior guard, Olathe Northwest (Olathe, Kan.)
Erika Lane: Senior guard, Washburn Rural (Topeka, Kan.)
Lauren Mertz: Junior forward,Bishop Ward Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.)
Taylor Williams: Senior guard/forward, Bishop Ward (Kansas City, Kan.)

 

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