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By Harold Abend
Contributing: Mark Tennis
Last year as a junior, and after leading her team to the CIF Division IV state championship, Kelsey Plum from La Jolla Country Day of La Jolla and her resume were given strong consideration in the final selection process for choosing the state’s top overall girls player. She didn’t get it, but was the Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year.
Now, after putting up career best numbers, and leading her team to the CIF Southern Regional Open Division semifinals with very limited depth and eight underclass players on a 10-girl roster, Plum has been named Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
The 5-foot-9 Washington-bound senior is the fourth player to be named Ms. Basketball from the CIF San Diego Section since 1972, when the award began being named annually. The first was in 1985 when Sharon Turner of Oceanside El Camino was the winner.
With a style and game that’s a combination of two past honorees, Plum knew them well when asked about Diana Taurasi (1999 and 2000 winner from Chino Don Lugo) and Jacki Gemelos, who won the award in 2006 at Stockton St. Mary’s.
“Diana Taurasi? She’s my favorite, and Jacki, she’s USC!” shouted Plum with a chuckle.
How about two-time winner Cheryl Miller, who won the award in 1981 and 1982 at Riverside Pol?. Did she know about her? “Yes, of course,” Plum laughed.
And what about the only two-time winner from the San Diego Section, Terri Mann. “San Diego,” roared Plum about the 1986 and 1987 honoree from San Diego Pt. Loma.
And what about the player she’s been compared to her entire career, Candice Wiggins, the 2004 winner from La Jolla Country Day.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, WIGGINS!” was her emphatic response.
This past season, Plum averaged 27.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, with 3.7 steals and 3.3 assists per game.
Along the way, she dropped in 50 points against Dobson of Arizona, 40 at the Nike TOC in a loss to New York City Christ the King, and 25 at Stockton St. Mary’s and 29 versus Bishop O’Dowd in an MLK Day weekend when she was sick with a stomach virus. She had 29 points in an early season 56-48 victory over Division III state champion Mission Hills Alemany, and 30 points against Santa Ana Mater Dei. In the season ending loss to Windward, Plum had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite being double and triple-teamed every game, she shot 48 percent from the field (33 percent on 3-pointers) and 84 percent from the foul line. Her 805 points this year could make the next Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book, and her 2,215 career points is close but falls short of making that list.
Other career totals include 683 rebounds, 382 assists and 370 steals.
Opposing coaches call her “unflappable” and “unstoppable.”
Even so, the decision between Plum and junior sensation Jordin Canada of Las Angeles Windward was excruciatingly close.
“Being named Ms. Basketball, and being compared with those players is just kind of unreal,” said Plum in a recent interview.
No flag football this Easter
Coming from a family of athletes has meant a lot of support for Kelsey.
Her father, Jim Plum, was a quarterback at La Mesa Helix that went on to star at San Diego State. He also was first team all-state in 1981. Katie Plum, her mother, played Division I volleyball at UC Davis.
Of Kelsey’s siblings, oldest sister Kaitlyn Plum followed mom and played volleyball at UC Davis. Another sister, Lauren Plum, was a volleyball first team All-American and first team All-Pac 12 this past season at Oregon. Little brother Dan Plum is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore tight end at San Diego Cathedral Catholic.
Besides hanging out with family, Kelsey’s favorite thing is playing sand volleyball on the family’s court at home, and playing flag football on Easter Sunday with her boy cousins.
This year, Kelsey missed the flag football game.
The reason she didn’t play is because Plum was in Chicago as one of four girls from California on the West roster for the McDonald’s All-American game. Fellow Ms. Basketball finalists Oderah Chidom of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd and Erica McCall of Bakersfield Ridgeview were the others along with Kendall Cooper from St. Anthony of Long Beach.
“I’m just so thankful and grateful to so many people that have helped me. If I didn’t go to Country Day, get coached by Coach (Terri) Bamford, and the support system at home, it would have never happened. Ms. Basketball. It’s just amazing.”
OF THE YEAR
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2013 Kelsey Plum, La Jolla Country Day, 5-9
2012 Nirra Fields, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-8
2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-0
2010 Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-11
2009 Layshia Clarendon, San Bernardino Cajon, 5-9
2008 Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly, 5-11
2007 Jeanette Pohlen, Brea Olinda, 6-1
2006 Jacki Gemelos, Stockton St. Mary’s, 6-0
2005 Courtney Paris, Piedmont, 6-4
2004 Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day, 5-11
2003 Dominique Banks, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-8
2002 Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, Lynwood, 5-7 Soph.
2001 Loree Moore, Harbor City Narbonne, 5-8
2000 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11
1999 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11 Jr.
1998 Michelle Greco, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 5-10
1997 Erin Buescher, Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian, 6-2
1996 Maylana Martin, Perris, 6-3
1995 Renee Robinson, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 5-10
1994 Nicole Erickson, Brea Olinda, 5-7
1993 Danielle Viglione, Fair Oaks Del Campo, 5-10
1992 Charisse Sampson, Los Angeles Washington, 5-11
1991 Tanda Rucker, Berkeley, 507
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 507
1987 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2
1986 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2 Jr.
1985 Sharon Turner, Oceanside El Camino, 5-9
1984 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3
1983 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3 Jr.
1982 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2
1981 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2 Jr.
1980 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8
1979 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Jr.
1978 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Soph.
1977 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1
1976 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1 Jr.
1975 Anita Ortega, Los Angeles, 5-9
1974 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-9
1973 Ann Meyers, Anaheim Connelly, 5-8 Jr.
1972 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-8 Soph.
Note: List extends back with assorted years back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.
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