Girls basketball player of the year: Kennedy Smith of Etiwanda

For four years, Kennedy Smith of Etiwanda has been a game-changing player. She teamed with coach Stan Delus to help establish the Eagles as a destination point for elite girls’ basketball.

Versatility always has been her calling card — playing defense, rebounding, leading the fast break, blocking shots, attacking the basket. She does whatever her team needs.

This season the 6-foot-1 senior and McDonald’s All-American was at her best, leading Etiwanda to a Southern Section Open Division championship over Sierra Canyon, then a state Open Division championship over previously unbeaten San José Archbishop Mitty.

Headed to USC, Smith has been selected The Times’ girls’ basketball player of the year.

Etiwanda put in a 3-2 matchup zone for the state final against Mitty that led to a 60-48 victory. The Eagles also showed off their defense in two wins over Sierra Canyon. And Smith was leading the way.

“You can always give yourself a chance to win a game through defense,” Delus said. “Defensively she can match up against anybody from the small guards to the big. She puts herself in a situation where she completely understands our concepts and how we’re taking away driving lanes and denying bigs and squeezing the floor.

“Those [are] things that we talk about every single day and she has been in the system four years and mastered it, and she communicates with her teammates how we want to defend.”

Smith averaged 19.4 points and 7.8 rebounds for the 32-2 Eagles.

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