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Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Mitchell's Kerri Young dribbles the ball down the court as a Pierre player defends during the first round of the District 3AA girls' basketball tournament earlier this year at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

Mitchell's Young earns SD Gatorade Player of Year award

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Mitchell's Young earns SD Gatorade Player of Year award
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

By LUKE HAGEN

The Daily Republic

Kerri Young was sitting on the end of the bench, her team getting blown out by Aberdeen in a late-January 2009 regular-season game.

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Then-first year Mitchell girls' basketball coach Wes Morgan signaled to the eighth-grader, who started to make her way toward the scorer's table for her first varsity minutes.

"I really don't want to go in, coach," a worried, bright-eyed Young said.

Morgan chuckled.

"I just said, 'You'll be fine,' " Morgan said, "and she was."

Five years later, Young wrapped up her impressive five-year varsity career with the Mitchell High School basketball team last weekend at the Class AA state tournament in Rapid City. The now-senior received several honors and achievements during her high school tenure, but she received one of her biggest individual awards Thursday morning.

Young was named the Gatorade South Dakota Girls' Basketball Player of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. The honor, which is in its 28th year, is given to one high school girls' and boys' player in each state by USA TODAY High School Sports and The Gatorade Company.

The 6-foot senior guard/forward averaged 16 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game this season. She led the Kernels to a 21-4 record and a second consecutive state tournament championship game appearance, finishing in second place. In 2011, Young averaged 18.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and helped the Kernels capture a state championship.

"It's pretty awesome to get this," said Young, who holds a 4.0 GPA and will graduate as valedictorian of her class. "The thing I didn't know about it is that only one person from each state gets it."

A South Dakota State University recruit, Young is the third Mitchell High School girls' basketball player to receive the Gatorade award. Jenna Hoffman won the award in 2003 and Jeana Hoffman earned it in 2004.

Young moves on as a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls' Basketball Player of the Year Award, announced later this month. All 50 states and one representative from the District of Columbia are in the running for the national award.

"I'm excited for her," Morgan said. "It's a task to put five good years together, and three really, really good years together. It's deserved."

Young finished her career with 1,760 career points, which ranks first in Mitchell High School scoring history for both boys' and girls' basketball. She's a three-time all-state selection and two-time all-state tournament team honoree.

In her career, the four-year starter averaged 16 points per game and saw action in 110 games, starting 97 times.

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