Stephanie Mavunga won the latest round as Indiana’s top high school girls’ player — barely.
A 6-foot-4 star who led Brownsburg to its first sectional title in 12 years, Mavunga edged Hamilton Southeastern’s Taya Reimer to win the Indianapolis Star’s Miss Basketball Award in the closest voting since 1999. Mavunga received 79 votes, five more than Reimer.
“Having someone in the state who is as good as you or someone that is better than you maybe just gives you all the more reason to play harder or play a better game,” said Mavunga, who competed against Reimer in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference. “Taya is an amazing player. I respect her as a player and a person. Obviously, the race was really close and it shows how good a player she is. It could have gone either way.”
Both players have been named to the McDonald’s All America team, and this award, announced Wednesday, comes after Reimer received the McDonald’s Morgan Wootten Award as the top female player in America. The 6-foot-4 Mavunga was the Gatorade/ESPN Indiana Player of the Year, and the battle could continue into college.
Reimer has signed with Notre Dame, which is moving from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Mavunga is headed to North Carolina, a longtime ACC member.
Mavunga averaged 23.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.8 blocks this season. She also has a 4.136 GPA on a 4.0 scale because of weighted classes. Her brother, Julian, was an Indiana All-Star who now plays professionally in Europe.
But Mavunga didn’t always look this natural on a basketball court.
“She has come such a long way in four years,” her brother said. “As a freshman she would have times when she traveled six or seven times a game. She worked so hard to get to where she is now. It was always her goal to be the best in Indiana, and she got there.”
Mavunga improved her scoring average every season, raising it from 11.5 points as a freshman reserve to 23.2 as a senior when Brownsburg went 20-4.
She had 25 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in a 51-45 victory over Pike in the sectional final. When Pike tied the score in the fourth quarter, Mavunga responded with back-to-back baskets and added four more points as the Bulldogs pulled away.
“I think that is when she proved she is a great player in that type of game,” Brownsburg coach Amy Brahman said. “She was determined to win.”