ST. GEORGE — Freshman center Kealah Faumuina of Dixie High School has been selected as the girls basketball player of the week for week four of the Region 9 season.
Though the Flyers didn’t win either of their games in the week, Faumuina stood out. She recorded nearly half her team’s scoring in their blowout loss to Pine View 68-30 on Jan. 26 and set the high-water mark for scoring by a freshman in the region in a close loss to Hurricane on Jan. 28.
The freshman is making a difference for a Dixie team that has faced an uphill battle all season.
“When I get into the right mindset, I feel unstoppable,” Faumuina said. “And when I feel unstoppable I start to play like I’m unstoppable.”
Not a lot went right for Dixie against Pine View, as the Panthers ran away early over a young team. Pine View, a favorite to win state, never really gave Dixie room to breathe and allowed only 30 points. Faumuina scored 14 of those points. She hauled in eight rebounds and had two blocks and a steal against a much more experienced team. She was also often contesting region MVP and leading scorer Averi Papa in the paint, who boasts a distinct height advantage as a senior.
Faumuina held her own as much as possible.
“It’s been nothing but a joy and pleasure watching La La this season,” Dixie head coach Ryan Forsey said. “We knew her potential after watching her play the last couple of seasons for her club team, but I think what impressed us more was how hard she works in practice and her dedication to improving. We knew she could be an impact player from the start of the season, but we weren’t sure how she’d handle it being a Freshman and having no previous varsity experience. So far, she has done exceptional.”
Faumuina’s breakout game came against Hurricane, a much physically smaller team than Pine View. Dixie still watched the win slip away, but Faumuina asserted herself as a force in this region for the next four years, scoring 26 points. She’s routinely put up points in the high teens but the 26 sets a career-high and has so far been unmatched by any other freshman in the Region.
Half those points came in the fourth as the Flyers rallied to turn a 14-point deficit at the third buzzer to a six-point one by the final horn. Before the fourth quarter, the Flyers as a team had scored no more than 12 points. The Tigers were playing some of their depth players and had pulled out of their press, but baskets still had to be made.
“It felt nice to show that I am capable of doing more than what I’ve done so far in playing basketball,” Faumuina said. “Other than our team losing, it felt great.”
Following the week, Dixie sat at 4-4 in Region 9 play. The team is still playing catchup after having most of its preseason nullified by a COVID-19 outbreak in the program and some of its players still feeling the effects nearly two months later. The team isn’t going to pressure Desert Hills or Pine View for the top spot in the region, but it is building toward a future that Faumuina figures to be a central part of. With three full seasons after this one before she graduates, the sky will be the limit for her.
“Every game, presents new challenges for her and how opposing teams are trying to stop or slow her down and early on in the season she would get really frustrated and back down some, but she has stuck with it, asked questions, and listened to coaches and teammates, and is really beginning to understand what it takes night and night out to perform at a high level,” Forsey said. “And the really scary thing is, I don’t think she realizes yet what she’s capable of.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.