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Tisha Phillips Named Idaho’s ‘Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year’

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“Tisha Phillips (Nez Perce) is a fearless competitor and at times she seems unstoppable. I truly believe that,” Lewiston head coach Pat Teichmer said. “As a basketball player she can shoot it, she can pass it, she can dribble it, she can drive to the rim, and she can play defense. There’s not a lot she can’t do.”

Tisha was recently named the Gatorade Idaho Girls Basketball Player of the Year which honors the state’s top player while recognizing not only athletic achievement but also academic excellence and character. During her two years at Lewiston High School, after transferring from Lapwai, she has maintained a B average, is active in her church and has worked with youngsters as an elementary guest speaker and basketball coach

This is but one of several honors she received this spring. She was also named to the 2012 5A Girls All-Idaho basketball team and was named the MVP of the Inland Empire League. She averaged 15 points a game with 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 2.2 assists. She was also chosen to play in six all-star games but regulations limit her to just two such games.

During the state tournament she set state records for free throws made in a game (18) and in the tournament (34). Those 34 made free throws came in 36 attempts, an amazing 94% in the biggest games of her life. Lewiston was the state winner in the 5A division, which includes the state’s largest schools, for the second straight year and Tisha also played on a state champion team while at Lapwai in a lower division. Winning three state championships in four years is a remarkable achievement and indicative of her leadership abilities. She was also the ‘Player of the Game’ in all three games during the state tournament.

Asked about her reaction to being named the Gatorade winner, she replied, “It felt unreal at first. I didn’t get anything my freshman and sophomore years but in the end I got state championships. I just wanted to win and tried to do everything I could so we could win. That’s what I got in the end. It feels good to be rewarded for everything.”

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Tisha played a bit at all positions other than in the post, but primarily at one of the guard positions. She stands 5’10” and would prefer to play the #2 spot in college. “If I have to bring the ball up I will but I like being able to shoot and drive. My role was scoring because that’s one of the strong things I could do, but also my passing. I was good at driving and getting people open. As a leading scorer they would collapse on me so I got passes off to people.”

Her mother, Nicole George, is justifiably proud of Tisha. “She’s done very well. I’m very proud of her.” She hadn’t done real well in school earlier but, “When she came to Lewiston it was whole other story on education. She had to really study hard and now she’s an honor roll student. Here she’s really blossomed.”

She has not made a decision about college yet but says, “There’s quite a few (schools recruiting her). I have no idea right now where I’ll be going.” She’s awaiting results of her ACT scores which will help determine her next step and is still a little torn between staying fairly close to home or possibly going to a four-year school possibly farther away.

Long term, looking beyond college, she would like to be a veterinarian. “I just really love animals,” she said.

Tisha is the latest in a long line of outstanding girl basketball players to come from the Nez Perce reservation. Whatever school she decides to sign with you can bet there’s a coach thanking his lucky stars.