Tooele senior Aysha Lewis was a calming influence for the Buffaloes’ girls basketball team this season — something the Buffs needed, as they got off to a bit of a rough start.
However, Lewis and her teammates hit their stride just when it mattered most, surging to a second-place finish in Region 10. Lewis was Tooele’s leading scorer this season with 212 total points, and she also hit a team-high 27 3-pointers. But she didn’t just lead the way on the stat sheet. Her leadership was key to her team’s success, and helped her become just the fifth player to win the prestigious Jackie White-Kimber Memorial Award two times.
The award is given annually to the member of the THS girls basketball team who best exemplifies leadership skills and character while playing an integral role on the team.
“It feels good to get it twice,” Lewis said. “I’m glad I got it again. I’m honored. It shows that I’ve worked hard and tried to help all the other girls that were on the team. I tried to show as much leadership as I possibly could, and it paid off.”
Lewis, who won the award as a sophomore in 2018-19, joins Karie Johnson (1990-91 and 1992-93), Michelle Cooper (1994-95 and 1995-96), Lizzi Stewart (2010-11 and 2011-12) and Emily Webber (2016-17 and 2017-18) as a two-time winner of the award.
“As a ballplayer, bringing the ball up and down the floor, we really relied on her,” Tooele coach Randy Goss said. “She’s hard for the other teams to trap. She brings it up with confidence and she pretty much attacks the defense. Having her on the floor gave us a lot of confidence.”
Lewis tied her career high with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, in an overtime loss to Millard on Dec. 4 at a tournament in Delta. She also scored 18 points in a double-overtime loss to Canyon View at the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic on Dec. 30.
While the first month of the season was a struggle for the Buffs on the scoreboard, they were able to turn things around once Region 10 play began. Lewis scored 16 points in the Buffs’ 40-30 win over Uintah on Jan. 26.
Her most memorable moment came three weeks later at home against Cedar Valley, when a technical foul put her on the free-throw line with Tooele trailing by one point and no time remaining on the clock. She stepped up and knocked down both foul shots, allowing the Buffs to escape with a 36-35 win.
“In crunch time, she was one we could really rely on,” Goss said. “That takes a little bit of confidence to be able to walk up there and do that. With her confidence and reliability and the other players looking up to her, that’s huge.”
Lewis finished her career with 579 career points, including 58 3-pointers made. She plans to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii this fall.
“I want to thank my coaches, because I definitely wouldn’t be here without them and their support,” Lewis said. “My parents are willing to pay for all my sports, and my grandpa has always been on me for my basketball. I’ve learned a lot from him and he pushes me to be my best. I couldn’t be more grateful for my grandpa.”
The award is named for Jackie White-Kimber, a former Tooele High girls basketball player who died in 1988 after a battle with cancer. Cluff will receive a 14-karat solid gold ring, which was designed by Lisa Tate and Linda Matekel. Tate is White-Kimber’s first cousin. The award has been sponsored by White-Kimber’s grandfather, LaVar Tate, and is still funded by her family. Two-time winners receive a 14-karat gold necklace.
Past award winners include Tate (1988-89), Matekel (1989-90), Johnson (1990-91 and 1992-93), Shannon Lopez (1991-92), Stacie Blackburn (1993-94), Cooper (1994-95 and 1995-96), Amanda Kidd (1995-96), Kristi Thomas (1996-97), Lindsey Clegg (1997-98), Leah Roberts (1998-99), Kenzie Briggs (1999-2000), Kay C. Bleazard (2000-01), Lindsay Stahl (2001-02), Alex Ontiveros (2002-03), Staci Patch (2003-04), Elva Banford (2004-05), Meredith Nigh (2005-06), Samantha Thomas (2006-07), Alexis Bird (2007-08), Mattie Snow (2009-10), Lizzi Stewart (2010-11 and 2011-12), McKenzie Alvarez (2012-13), Courtney Schiwal (2013-14), Taylor Thomas (2014-15), Paris Stewart (2015-16), Webber (2016-17 and 2017-18), Lewis (2018-19) and Alivia Cluff (2019-20). No recipient was named in 2008-09.
A special Jackie White-Kimber Award was given to Grantsville’s Maison White, White-Kimber’s niece, in 2019-20.