ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills junior center Shailee Bundy has been selected as the player of the week for week two of Region 9 play.
Bundy was not supposed to be the premier post player in the game against Pine View on Thursday as the Thunder hosted the undefeated, No. 1 team in the state in 4A. While Bundy could not keep up with preseason MVP Averi Papa for the Panthers in the scorebook, she did her part on the offensive side and helped to contain Papa enough to deal Pine View its first loss of the season. Bundy made key plays down the stretch and into overtime to give the Thunder the win with her second double-double in three days.
“I’m really strong, and I know where to look for the ball,” Bundy said. “I know where to post up. I know when to ask for it. It’s just working on getting it in that we struggle sometimes.”
Bundy was pivotal on Thursday, as the Thunder took down Pine View. Her 18 points trailed Julia Jacobsen by one for the team lead. She also reeled in a career-high 20 rebounds, 13 of which came in the backcourt to prevent Papa and Co. from cleaning up second chances down low. Those boards may have turned out to be the difference in a game that was even at the end of regulation and separated by just three points after overtime.
On the other end, her seven offensive rebounds gave her a chance to increase her scoring.
“I know a lot of my points come from second shots, even though we like to get it in to me first,” Bundy said. “Rebounds are a big thing. They’re one of my big things as well.”
Bundy scored eight first half points to help the Thunder stretch out a 36-19 and then another eight in the second half as the Panthers clawed their way back to a draw. She landed a key layup in overtime and drew a foul in the process. She missed the free throw, but the rebound cleaned up by Papa still pinned Pine View in the backcourt for a few extra seconds.
On Tuesday, Bundy simply dominated a smaller-sized Snow Canyon team on the way to a 20-point, 10-rebound performance. She scored at least four points in every quarter, providing steady scoring.
“I knew they didn’t have very many posts – we all did – so we just try and look where we can excel, and it just happens to be in the post area most of the time.”
Bundy, already a preseason first-teamer, is turning more heads and challenging Papa’s previously uncontested title of top big in Region 9. The Thunder have plenty of options that can score from deep but still plan their game around getting the ball inside for Bundy to do her work.
When other teams are controlling her down low the Thunder can then use those outside options and cycle Jacobsen in down low and have Bundy kick it out. Desert Hills head coach Ron Denos made a point of acknowledging her passing game, especially against Snow Canyon, and her progress as a whole leading into her season campaign.
“Tuesday, she has not only a double-double, but she also has five assists. I mean, for a high school center, and I don’t know how many assists she got tonight,” Denos said following Thursday’s win. “She has really done a great job this year. I needed her to really be in shape this year and she put forth the effort. There’s no way she would’ve lasted this game last year. That’s a tribute to her and her hard work.”
Bundy missed week three’s opening game against Hurricane due to injury but is expected to return to the rotation soon. As the Thunder try to challenge for a state title, she will be at the center of it all on both sides of the court.
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