If pre-game rituals mean anything, then the Stansbury Stallions can thank Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward for their trip to the playoffs this season.
Before every game, Stallion senior guard Erika Alvey kisses a Gordon Hayward-signed book as a good luck charm.
“I always kiss the signature before (games). It’s good luck,” Alvey said. “I love Gordon. He’s my favorite.”
Alvey, one of three seniors for the Stallions, helped guide the team to a third-place finish in Region 11 and is preparing to play against Carbon on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs. She’s also the hero of the Stallions’ Jan. 31 contest against Ogden.
With the Stallions down 3 in overtime, she attempted a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining. The Ogden defender fouled her on the play and sent her to the free-throw line. Alvey drained all three free throws to send the game into double overtime, where the Stallions eventually won. That win gave the Stallions a tiebreaker over Ogden that put them into third place.
But Alvey is used to being in Stansbury High School’s spotlight. The SHS student body crowned Alvey as homecoming queen in September, which she said was one of her favorite experiences.
“Homecoming week was my favorite week of my whole entire life,” Alvey said. “Everyone was so supportive about it, and even with that whole dress controversy I thought it was fun. Just being nominated by the basketball team just made it super cool.”
Alvey shined in the spotlight as a member of the volleyball team as well. Stansbury finished in second place in Region 11 for the 2012 season. The team eventually lost to Uintah in the first round of the state tournament.
She said her favorite of the sports she plays is volleyball, so she’s hoping to play the sport in college.
She’s had a few tryouts at this point and is hoping to hear back soon. Of course, Alvey shares the basketball spotlight with her sister Madie. So when it comes down to a one-on-one matchup between Erika and Madie, who wins? “She does,” Erika said. “It’s a tossup. She’s beaten me a few times, and I’ve beaten her, but you know it’s kind of embarrassing. Last time she beat me I never heard the end of it. She still talks about it.”
Erika said this year’s basketball team has a high maturity level. Even with just three seniors, she doesn’t ever think about that because the players all are on par with one another.
“Sometimes I don’t even remember that I’m a senior just because my team members are so mature,” she said. “I don’t really feel like it’s hard to be a leader to them because we have such good team chemistry, and we hardly ever have any disputations among us.”
With that good team chemistry, the girls know each other, and each person’s iPod, pretty well. Erika said teammate Karlee Manzione gets the award for the most peculiar music selection.
“She has some weird stuff,” Erika said. “We went through her iPod one time.”
Luckily the Stallions have Erika on the court with them as they prepare for the playoffs this week, but what if she didn’t play sports? What would she do instead?
“I actually would do show choir, musicals and stuff like that,” she said. “I like to sing and dance and just be funny.”
As a big-time Jazz fan, Erika went through her memory banks to find her favorite Jazz memory and went back to 2010 when bench player Sundiata Gaines hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I just thought that was the coolest thing that he had the confidence to step up and make that shot even though he never even played,” she said.
Some of the Stallions have been fighting illness this week, including Erika. For that, she may have to kiss Gordon Hayward’s signature a little bit more this week. Perhaps that will give them the luck they’ll need against Carbon on Saturday.