By Joseph Garcia
After earning three trips to State in her senior year and helping earn the Lady Panthers the same number of Regional Championships, Liberty Hill’s Kourtney Bevers was named the All-Central Texas Athlete of the Year for 2011-12 by The Austin American-Statesman.
Bevers has made headlines in Liberty Hill since she was a freshman in high school. Now she has graduated and moved on to college where she will continue her athletic career at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. But, perhaps, the biggest and the final honor to come of her high school playing days is beating out Central Texas’ finest athletes (boys and girls) from classes 1A-5A to become the Athlete of the Year.
The winner was named last week by the Statesman with excellence in more than one sport being the primary reason for selecting the winner. Bevers was No. 1 out of 50 area athletes selected to the list of top high school competitors.
She said the honor came as a surprise.
“It was a really big surprise winning it,” Bevers admitted. “I was in Arlington for an all-star game so I actually didn’t see it. Someone texted my Mom saying congratulations so I had to text my Dad so he could pick up the paper. It was a pleasant surprise, that’s for sure. Last year I was No. 7 and we looked at the No. 1 and thought that (honor) was achievable. I wouldn’t say that was something I was working towards, but it’s an honor to get it.”
Statesman high school beat writer Danny Davis said that this year was unique in the fact that there were more athletes who excelled in more than one sport compared to last year when the Athlete of the Year was the only athlete to land on more than one of the newspaper’s All-Central Texas teams.
He said this year five of the top 10 accomplished that feat so in order to cause some separation, the team’s success was taken into account which is why the decision came down to Bevers and Lake Travis’ Baker Mayfield.
“We went with Kourtney because, in my opinion, she defined athletic success over the past nine or 10 months,” Davis told The Independent. “A lot of athletes don’t accomplish what she did in the fall and all she did after the state cross-country meet was become the Central Texas area’s best softball player and one of its best basketball players. Throw in what she and her Liberty Hill teammates accomplished and I thought that the decision was a no-brainer.”
Over the course of this past school year, Bevers led Liberty Hill to the State basketball and softball tournaments and she also ran with the Lady Panthers at the State Cross Country Meet.
In November’s State Meet in Round Rock, Bevers was part of a girls fourth-place team and finished with an individual time of 13:27.30.
When basketball season came around, Bevers and the Lady Panthers dominated most of their competition on the way to securing District, Area and Regional Championships before heading to Austin for State in March.
Bevers headed the Lady Panthers averaging 15.8 points and 4.6 steals per game, which earned her a first-team spot on the All-Central Texas team and the District 25-3A Defensive Most Valuable Player.
“She’s one of the best competitors I’ve ever coached,” said Liberty Hill girls’ basketball Coach Matt Kirschner. “She comes to practice and games every day ready to lead and work hard. With her getting to the State level in three varsity sports is rare in here in Texas. She is going to be one that is hard to replace. Every day you knew she was going to give her best. She is used to success and wants to be around success. That’s what she does.”
Bevers, the All-Centex Player of the Year in basketball, missed the first 13 games of the softball season as she was busy winning games on the hard court. But once she strapped on the cleats, Bevers still earned 12 wins as a pitcher and hit .418 as Liberty Hill made its first appearance at the State Softball Tournament.
“She is such a deserving athlete,” said Liberty Hill softball coach and Women’s Athletic Coordinator Charice Hankins. “I am so proud of everything she has accomplished and know she has just started making her mark. She will be tremendously missed.”
Bevers becomes only the second female to earn the All-Central Texas Athlete of the Year award in six years of its existence, joining Lexington alum and 2008 recipient Amanda Dowdy. Past recipients of the award include Hutto’s Jeremy Kerley (2007), Round Rock’s Dax Hill (2009), Taylor’s Mark Jackson (2010) and Anderson’s Connor Sheehan (2011).
After Bevers, rounding out the top five athletes were Lake Travis junior Baker Mayfield, New Braunfels Canyon junior Chamaya Turner, Westwood senior Ben Johnson and Pflugerville senior I’Tiana Taylor.
Athletes six through 10 were La Grange junior Breanna Homer, Wimberley senior Brennen Blakemore, San Marcos senior Allex Austin, Jarrell junior Morgan Cooper and Luling junior Carley Glass.
Two other Liberty Hill Lady Panthers were named to the top 50.
Jessica Green was the 25-3A Co-MVP in basketball and also reached the State Track Meet in the high jump and was part of the State softball team as well.
Susie Kemper was also named to the list after becoming the 3A girls cross country champion and earning a silver medal at the State Meet in the 1600 meter run.
Green is headed to run track for Colorado State University while Kemper will attend Alabama and run for the Crimson Tide.