ST. GEORGE — It was a brilliant day for Haley Bodnar, who was honored in a special assembly at Desert Hills High School for her award as the Gatorade Utah High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“It’s basically a reflection of the hard work and dedication Haley’s put into the game of basketball,” former Desert Hills coach Chris Allred said. “She’s worked as hard as any player I have ever been around, boys or girls, in my coaching career.”
Bodnar, a 6-foot-4 senior who averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots per game this season for the state champion Thunder, received a trophy at a school-wide assembly. The school also received a trophy on her behalf as well as a banner to hang in the school’s “Thunderdome” gymnasium. Bodnar was the co-MVP of the 3A state tournament along with teammate Blair Bliss and was the state MVP in 2013. She has signed to play Division I basketball at Purdue University next season.
“This is so awesome, especially with so many great players in state,” Bodnar said. “This definitely was was a goal of mine. I put in lot of time and hours in gym and coach was right there with me working on extra things. Hard work was a big part of it.”
Allred said the award is an amazing capper to an amazing career for Bodnar.
“I’ve seen these Player of the Year banners hanging in a few gyms around the country, but never really understood the kind of process that it takes to win one,” Allred said. “I got contacted before the season by (a committee member) in New York and had to fill out some forms and then they contacted a lot of different, high school, college and club coaches. They did their research.”
Recent winners in Utah include Brittney Martin of Syracuse High, who plays for Oklahoma State University, and Lexi Eaton from Springville High, who plays for BYU. Notable National gatorade POY winners include Britney Griner of Baylor, Maya Moore of Connecticut and this year’s winner, Brianna Turner of Marvel, Tex., who has signed to play at Notre Dame next season.
It was a little bit of a bittersweet day for Desert Hills girls basketball fans as Allred announced his resignation as head coach of the program. In the past four seasons, Allred has led his team to the state championship game each year, culminating with this season’s impressive blowout win for the title over Morgan High School.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now,” he said. “My son will be in ninth grade and his two sports are baseball and basketball. As April rolled around, I realized I just wanted to spend more time working with my son and doing some things with him. My daughter graduates this year and I see now how fast those four years go.”
Allred said he he feels sad walking away from a program that he has built into a perennial powerhouse.
“It’s hard to do,” he said. “Now that we’ve got things rolling and have some really good young girls coming up. But I’m happy with the direction the program is headed.”
No replacement has been named for Allred.
As for Bodnar, she will join a Purdue program that is also on the upswing. The Boilermakers were 22-9 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament and have won at least 20 games for four straight seasons. The fourth-seeded Purdue was ousted by fifth-seeded Oklahoma State in the second round of the NCAAs.
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