Rhea wins her third player of the year award

Juneau standout just fourth player in state history to win three times

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007

Juneau-Douglas High School senior Talisa Rhea joined a very exclusive club Saturday.

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Rhea became just the fourth basketball player in Alaska history to be named the Anchorage Daily News / Alaska Media Class 4A Player of the Year a third time. Rhea won the honor in 2006 and 2005.

Wasilla girls coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax, Trajan Langon and Mario Chalmers were also three-time selections.

"It means a lot," Rhea said. "One of my goals this year was to do it again."

When Rhea heads off to play for Oregon State next season, she leaves behind a legacy of success.

During her four years, Rhea won a state title, made two finals appearances and finished third in the state. She was also named the Gatorade Alaska State Player of the Year and made the McDonald's All American Team.

In her career, she's scored 1,625 points and dished out more than 500 assists.

"She's just poured her whole heart into her team the last four years," JDHS girls coach Lesslie Knight said. "She's been great for the younger kids. For them to get to play with her and play her style of running and her tempo. Just playing with someone with her court awareness had to have been a great experience."

For four years, Rhea led her team and thrilled fans with a special mix of power and intelligence. She took over games with a clutch 3-pointer, a hard drive to the whole or left fans in a awe with one of her trademark passes through traffic.

Though she's led the Crimson Bears in nearly every statistical category the last two years, Rhea said it's learning how to involve her teammates in the game that she'll take to the next level.

"I think just how to be under control and not let what the other team is doing affect you," Rhea said. "I've learned to share the ball and take over if you have to but mostly, get your teammates involved, and you'll have a better result."

The Crimson Bears have relied on her leadership and ability to dictate the pace of a contest.

While intense on the court, Knight noted she also brings some levity to practice.

"She's really a fun kid," Knight said. "She's makes every day in practice fun. One of the things she does is she sings in practice. It pretty much puts a smile and smirk on our faces. ... I try to be straight-faced and serious sometimes and I have to cover my eyes so I don't look at her because she's running hard and singing as she goes."

In Oregon State, Rhea joins a building program. The Beavers finished 9-19 last season and are considered one of the Pac-10's up-and-coming programs.

"I'm really excited to move on to the next level," Rhea said. "It'll be weird not playing in high school anymore, but I'm excited to move on."

The Crimson Bears' program should be in good hands next season.

Sophomore guard Kayla Harrison was named to second-team all-state. In her first year as a starter, Harrison emerged as one of Juneau's top 3-point threats.

Her defense and ability to dive for loose balls also set her apart.

"She's typically a point guard, and we moved her to the shooting guard spot, and she has a beautiful shot," Knight said of Harrison. "Kayla is growing and maturing and is a great player."

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com.

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