Jill-of-all-trades Kentwood junior is Female Athlete of the Year

Basketball or volleyball? Volleyball or basketball? When it comes to Kentwood High’s Jessie Genger, coaches tend to have different opinions on which is her better sport. Understandably so. Genger, a 5-foot-11 junior, has been equally impressive in both the last several years. This past fall and winter, however, the agile and athletic Genger turned a corner, leading to the obvious question: When it comes to college, which will she choose?

  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, June 10, 2008 12:02pm
  • Sports
Kentwood High School’s Jessie Genger was dominant at the net in the fall

Kentwood High School’s Jessie Genger was dominant at the net in the fall

Basketball or volleyball?

Volleyball or basketball?

When it comes to Kentwood High’s Jessie Genger, coaches tend to have different opinions on which is her better sport.

Understandably so.

Genger, a 5-foot-11 junior, has been equally impressive in both the last several years. This past fall and winter, however, the agile and athletic Genger turned a corner, leading to the obvious question: When it comes to college, which will she choose?

“When I think of all the players we’ve had in our program through the years, Jessie has improved the most,” Kentwood basketball coach Keith Hennig said. “I think she might end up being the best basketball player in college of anyone we have.”

Which is a lot to consider with star Lindsey Moore still in the fold and former leader Courtney Vandersloot now at Gonzaga University.

But what about volleyball?

“I’d put her in the top five players I’ve had here,” said sixth-year Kentwood volleyball coach Bil Caillier. “(2006 graduate Liliola Halahuni) is the best setter we’ve had and (2005 graduate (Sarah) Conwell was pretty darn amazing. Those are the top three I can think of … I’d put Jessie in the top three.”

But this past school year, there simply wasn’t anyone better. And because of that, Genger has been chosen from a strong field as the Reporter’s Female Athlete of the Year.

Although Genger still has a year of high school to go, the decision for which many college coaches have been waiting on pins and needles came out last Sunday evening.

“Right now, I am looking into playing volleyball in college,” the 17-year-old Genger said with a slight hint of indecision in her voice. “Right now, I am more deciding on whether I would play basketball in college, too. But I know I want to play volleyball.”

That said – and though she has plenty of time to change directions – it’s hard to say Genger hasn’t made the right call. Especially after her performance at the net this past fall, when she blossomed from a very good player to become the South Puget Sound League North Division’s best.

“She evolved as a player and a leader,” Caillier said.

Genger certainly did.

As a sophomore, she earned second-team All-SPSL North honors as a middle blocker/outside hitter.

Last fall?

Genger brought home league MVP honors on a team that was loaded with stars. She did it with precision, ranking second on the team in aces (64). And, she did it with power, ranking sixth in the league in kills per game (2.9) and second in kill percentage (37.2).

In the process, the lanky right-hander helped lead the Conquerors to a third straight North Division title — including their third straight perfect league record — and a fourth consecutive state berth.

Kentwood also established a new school record in season wins (35) and finished third at the state tournament, the school’s best since 1987.

“I never really thought of myself as the best player in our league or on my team, and never looked at myself like that,” said Genger, who is being recruited by Western Washington University and Gonzaga among others. “But it’s really a great honor. My mom (Barb) cried when I told her.”

Yet, as good as Genger was on the volleyball floor, she was nearly as impressive on the basketball court in the winter. A first-team All-SPSL North selection, Genger averaged 10.5 points and 4.48 rebounds per game, both among the league leaders.

She did so despite being slowed somewhat by an ankle injury suffered before the first game of the season.

“She really showed how tough she was and how badly she wanted to help her teammates,” Hennig said. “She battled through it.”

Bum ankle and all, Genger still delivered 15 and 22 points respectively in victories against Seattle Prep and Federal Way to open the season. The soreness remained throughout, but Genger’s toughness never relented as she helped the Conquerors win their third straight division title and a second consecutive district crown. In the process, Kentwood nabbed a third straight state berth.

“The last couple of years, we’ve had Courtney (Vandersloot) and Lindsey, and those two kind of ran the show,” Hennig said. “This year, without Court, Jessie stepped up and was a go-to player down the stretch.”

Whether it’s on the volleyball floor or the basketball court, Genger certainly will be ready for an encore next year.

LOCAL PREP STARS PLAYED BIG ALL YEAR

Kentwood junior Jessie Genger was far from alone among female prep athletes to shine during the 2007-2008 school year.

From the volleyball floor to the basketball court, the swimming pool, the fastpitch diamond and everything in between, Covington and Maple Valley athletes impressed during every season.

Below is a look at a handful of female athletes from the three local schools (Kentwood, Kentlake and Tahoma) who were in the running for The Reporter’s second-annual Female Athlete of the Year award.

Lindsey Moore, Kentwood

There’s no question Moore was the most dominant female basketball player in the area – possibly even the state. A well-rounded guard, Moore averaged 17.8 points, 7.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game.

The South Puget Sound League North Division MVP, Moore led Kentwood to a third straight state berth and third consecutive league title.

But Moore was far from done after the winter basketball season, continuing her success during the track and field season. Moore won won a district title in the javelin with a toss of 12 feet, 7 inches and took second in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 5 inches. Moore’s continued her ascension at Star Track in Pasco, taking fifth in the high jump with a personal best leap of 5-6.

Amber Drumm, Tahoma

Talk about your classic overachiever.

With so many prep athletes now becoming specialists these days, often selecting just one sport even before entering junior high, Drumm is — and has been — quite the opposite.

She picked up three more varsity letters this year (basketball, soccer and track & field), bringing the 18-year-old’s high school total to a whopping 11.

Drumm helped the Bears land district berths in both soccer and basketball this year. In the spring, she continued the success, qualifying for the district meet in track.

Drumm, who sports a 3.95 GPA, will be heading to Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., in the fall on a partial soccer scholarship.

Felecia Harris, Kentlake

Even with a bum shoulder, Harris remained one of the area’s — and state’s — top softball players.

Without a doubt, there’s no one around who can hit a softball as far as the 18-year-old University of Washington-bound senior, who established a new single-season school record this spring with 10 long balls.

Known more for her pitching prowess in previous years, Harris had offseason shoulder surgery and never fully reached 100 percent in the circle. Despite that, she helped the Falcons win their third straight SPSL North crown and qualify for state for the ninth time in the school’s 11-year history.

Along the way, Harris was named the North’s MVP for a second straight time after leading the league in on-base percentage (.750), slugging (1.281), batting average (.594) and, of course, home runs.

Even at less than 100 percent in the circle, Harris still led the league in wins (7) and ranked fourth in strikeouts (43 in 44 2/3 innings pitched) and seventh in earned run average (2.82).

Marley Prothero, Kentwood

Some swimmers really can do it all, and the Kentwood High senior has done it in championship form.

Last fall, Prothero won her second straight Class 4A state championship in the 200-yard individual medley, which combines all four swimming strokes: butterfly, back, breaststroke and freestyle. She went the distance in 2 minutes, 6.87 seconds. Later in the meet, Prothero earned a bronze medal in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.85. Both times were good for high school All-American consideration status.

Prothero dropped significant time from her junior year performances. Her winning IM time in 2006 was 2:08.46. She also was sixth in the breaststroke that year with 1:09.48.

Prothero will continue her swimming career in college at Nevada-Las Vegas.


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