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All-Area MVP: Kendra Kitchen made a huge leap, led Davis to its best season in a decade

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | Mar 18, 2023
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Davis High School junior Kendra Kitchen poses for a photo outside the school on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Kitchen is the 2023 Standard-Examiner All-Area Girls Basketball Most Valuable Player.
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Davis High's Kendra Kitchen drives the ball during a 6A girls basketball state quarterfinal against Herriman on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 at Weber State's Dee Events Center.
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Davis High School junior Kendra Kitchen poses for a photo outside the school on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Kitchen is the 2023 Standard-Examiner All-Area Girls Basketball Most Valuable Player.
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Davis player Kendra Kitchen sizes up the Fremont defense on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Kaysville.

KAYSVILLE — Kendra Kitchen is the “lead by example” type on Davis High’s girls basketball team, owing to how she approached games, practices and her work last offseason in the weight room.

Put her in the spotlight and ask her to say a few inspiring words in hopes of firing up the team in the locker room and, well, she’s not that type. She likes to stay calm and collected before and during games, and admitted she doesn’t have many motivating quotes at her disposal.

But this season when teams focused their attention on the junior forward, Kitchen was lights out. She is the 2023 Standard-Examiner All-Area Girls Basketball Most Valuable Player.

Kitchen averaged 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 3.0 steals per game, all of which were team highs. She shot 45.2% from the field, 32.2% on 3-pointers and 81.8% at the free-throw line.

With Kitchen at near double-double numbers each night, the Darts went 20-3, won their first region championship since 2013 and advanced to their first state semifinal since 2007.

“There were multiple games when I would — maybe things weren’t going our way, and I could look at Kendra and I could tell that she was in the zone, and she gonna put us on her back and carry us. She just had that look,” Davis coach Anne Jones said.

Kitchen made perhaps the biggest year-to-year leap of any area player after averaging 11.3 points and 8.1 rebounds as a sophomore, improving her 3-point shooting, confidence on the dribble-drive and her physicality in the post. Some of it was by necessity, as Kitchen was the only returning starter from the previous season.

“This year we didn’t have as much size, so I was able to get down low more and get more rebounds and, I don’t know, I feel like sometimes I just was like hitting my shots, and I feel like they would get me the ball, and we would play good team ball and it just worked out that way I guess,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen said she was a little surprised at her final stats and said she was hoping to average around 15 points per game this year. Jones wasn’t surprised.

“I don’t know if I expected a certain number that she would average, but I’ve been around her long enough to know that she has the tools and all the abilities to do those things,” Jones said.

“Matchup nightmare” and “pick your poison” aptly described what it was like to guard Kitchen, a 6-foot-1 forward who can handle the ball like a point guard, shoot 3s like a shooting guard, score inside like a center and defend most anyone.

Her biggest improvement was avoiding what she called “dumb fouls,” like fouling an opposing player under the basket after that player got a defensive rebound.

As a sophomore, Kitchen frequently sat on the bench with foul trouble.

Kitchen is the youngest of five children. Her dad is heavily invested in her basketball success and like most parents, is very involved in her college recruiting process. It drove him crazy to see her sit on the bench after “stupid” fouls.

Kitchen didn’t foul out once this season and had only four games with four fouls. She ranked fourth in the state in blocks per game.

“I learned what to watch for when they’re going up for a shot, like if they were actually going to shoot it, or if I would be able to get it without getting a foul,” Kitchen said. “(Jones) says this thing, it’s called high risk, high reward, and so I was just thinking of that and how not to foul out every two games.”

One of Kitchen’s season highlights was a 27-point night when the Darts beat Fremont 48-35 on Jan. 24, ending the Silverwolves’ 73-game unbeaten run in Region 1 games and establishing a legitimate challenge to Fremont’s five-year run of winning the region title.

There were still six regular-season games left after the Fremont game, but Davis celebrated like it had won everything.

Beating Fremont was on the Darts’ goals list — “…it was like two or three, it was pretty high up there,” Kitchen said. Their No. 1 goal was to win region and once they beat Clearfield on Feb. 14 to go to 11-0 in Region 1 with one game left, they wrapped up what would be a shared title with Fremont.

The first Fremont game was one of 10 games where Kitchen scored 20-plus points. She was held to single digits just twice and Davis won on both occasions.

As teams started throwing two or three defenders at Kitchen, the rest of the team had to step up and did so numerous times, such as in the Darts’ playoff wins over Farmington and Herriman.

In the end, Davis lost to Skyridge in the state semifinals to end a season that Jones initially called a rebuilding year.

“I think it was unexpected for me. I thought we’d go 50-50, but we just came out with something and I feel like we blew a lot of people’s expectations out of the water and especially mine. It was awesome to be a part of the team that did that,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen’s offseason goals are to get stronger and be more comfortable finishing at the rim through contact. She enters this spring and summer with one college basketball offer, from Fresno State, and likely will end up with more offers once her senior season at Davis starts in 2023.

Expectations will be 180 degrees different next year for the Darts, who are expected to return four starters and most of their bench. They’ll likely be a preseason favorite to win Region 1 instead of being looked at as an outside contender.

Kitchen knows that and knows what type of pressure that stature will come with, which is why she’s already going to the gym regularly to prepare for next season.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.


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