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October 21, 2014

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high school basketball:

Amanda Delgado transforms Liberty into a contender, leads Sun Super Seven team

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

The Sun Seven basketball players, from left, Centennial’s Ashley Klemz, Bishop Gorman’s Zhane Dikes, Palo Verde’s Jasmin Kiley, Virgin Valley’s Rachel Morris, Liberty’s Amanda Delgado, Centennial’s Courtney Hayes and Bisho Gorman’s Amber Lane.

2010-2011 Girls Prep Basketball - Sun Seven Outtakes

The Sun Seven basketball players Centennial's Ashley Klemz, Bishop Gorman's Zhane Dikes, Palo Verde's Jasmin Kiley, Virgin Valley's Rachel Morris, Liberty's Amanda Delgado, Centennial's Courtney Hayes and Bishop Gorman's Amber Lane. Launch slideshow »

Liberty girls basketball coach Quintin Lester describes Amanda Delgado as one of the goofiest girls he’s ever been around.

That’s why her behavior before last year’s Sunrise Region Championship Game caught him off guard. Instead of joking and entertaining her teammates as usual, Delgado was intensely focused and silent.

“She put on her war face,” Lester said. “That’s the best way to describe it.”

Delgado proceeded to lead Liberty to the biggest victory in school history, an 83-65 win over Green Valley, to clinch its first appearance in the state tournament.

She scored 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting with seven rebounds and four assists. Whether she realized it or not, the performance secured Delgado’s spot as one of the elite players in Southern Nevada and landed her on the Preseason Sun Super Seven team.

“I’m good, but I’m not great,” Delgado said. “I want to be up there. There’s still so much for me to learn and so much for me to do.”

The 5-foot-7 guard committed to the University of Oregon during the offseason, so her sole focus this year will be taking the Patriots as far as they can go.

Because of Delgado, Liberty enjoyed the type of preseason hype usually reserved for only Bishop Gorman and Centennial. Either Gorman or Centennial has won the last nine state championships in girls' basketball, but they may have tougher competition this season.

“It’s my last year and my last chance to make a statement,” Delgado said. “We want to put Liberty out there. Everyone knows about Bishop Gorman and Centennial. Now, it’s time for us.”

Delgado didn’t grow up playing basketball. She was strictly a soccer player until seventh grade when a few friends invited her to play on their intramural team.

That turned into playing for her middle school team, which made a run at the league championship. Ever since then, Delgado has been hooked on the game.

“Basketball means everything to me,” Delgado said. “I’d do anything for it. I live, breathe, eat, sleep basketball.”

Maybe that’s why Delgado feels she has so much room for improvement. Ask her what areas she hopes to better her game in and receive a laundry list of items.

Delgado wants to get quicker, handle the ball better, play more efficient defense and improve her shot selection.

“I’m trying to get every little piece of my game down to be a complete player,” Delgado said.

Lester says she can get better, too. But he’s already beyond impressed with where she is as a senior in high school.

Delgado is no longer one of Las Vegas’ best-kept secrets — not after last year’s Sunrise Championship Game.

“When it comes down to it, when we really need something, we know it and teams know it — we’re going to be looking for her to make a play,” Lester said.

2010-2011 Sun Super Seven Team

Amanda Delgado, Liberty — The 5-foot-7 guard led Liberty to the school’s first Sunrise Regional championship last year. She continued in her solid play in the summer, going from not being recruited to receiving a scholarship from Oregon.

Courtney Hayes, Centennial — The 5-foot-6 Hayes is a four-year varsity starter for one of the state’s top programs. She’ll continue playing at a high level in college, signing a letter of intent last month with Louisiana Tech. She averaged 16.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.7 steals and 5.4 assists per game as a junior, and as a sophomore, started on the Bulldogs’ state title team.

Ashley Klemz, Centennial — The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 14.3 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds per game as a junior last year. She signed with Utah Valley State.

Zhane Dikes, Bishop Gorman — The 5-foot-9 junior guard earned all-league honors last year in helping Gorman win the state title. She is credited with being an aggressive defender and very athletic.

Jasmin Kiley, Palo Verde — The 5-foot-7 junior guard was an All-Northwest Division selection last year as a sophomore. As a freshman two years ago, she led Palo Verde to school’s first playoff victory in its then 13-year existence.

Amber Lane, Bishop Gorman — The 5-foot-5 senior point guard was an All-Southwest Division selection last year during Gorman’s state title run. Led by Lane, Dikes and Chelsie Pitt, the Gaels play at a faster past than most of their competition.

Rachel Morris, Virgin Valley — The 6-foot-4 senior post player doesn’t get as much publicity as the other members of the Sun’s Super Seven because she plays or 3A Virgin Valley in Mesquite. But Morris might just be the top player in the group. She averaged 11.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per last season as a junior in leading Virgin Valley to the 3A Southern League title. She was the league’s MVP.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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