MVP's Emilee Fox adds to lasting legacy with Class A Spirit of Su award

Mar. 10—BROOKINGS — Emilee Fox's decorated prep basketball career earned its crown jewel on Saturday night.

In front of a packed Dacotah Bank Center for the championship session of the girls basketball state tournament, Fox was honored as the Class A Spirit of Su award recipient, the first from the Mount Vernon/Plankinton girls program.

"I'm pretty shy, so I was kind of nervous when they called my name," Fox said. "I was like, 'Oh no, I have to go out in front of all these people.' But it was really special, and I'm just super thankful."

The Spirit of Su award, sponsored by the South Dakota Fraternal Order of Police, recognizes an outstanding senior state-tournament athlete who exemplifies the life of SuAnne Big Crow, the Lakota basketball star from Pine Ridge who was killed in a car crash in 1992. Student-athletes are recognized for athletic ability, sportsmanship, leadership, character and academic ability and must be nominated by their coaches.

"There are so many reasons she deserves this," said MVP coach Preston Kristensen. "She's a high-character kid, a good student, and that's not even mentioning what she does on the court."

Fox joins a string of recent boys Spirit of Su award winners from MVP, including Reed Rus at last year's Class A tournament, as well as Cody Renken (2015), Tate Deinert (2016) and Devin Rihanek (2017).

It's the latest addition to a lengthy list of accomplishments for the South Dakota State women's basketball signee, who's a four-time Class A all-state selection (with a fifth likely on the way) and a 2,200-point scorer, a mark that places Fox in the top-20 in state history.

Helping lead MVP to a seventh-place finish during its first state tournament appearance since 2015, Fox finished with a three-day tally of 55 points, 22 rebounds, six assists and four steals. This season, Fox averaged 21.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

Hanson High School also brought home hardware from Saturday night's award ceremony, with the cheer squad garnering recognition with the Spirit of Six award.

Members of the team include Stephanie Aulner, Jaycee Heezen, Jayden Hofer and Jozlynn Tegethoff. The team is coached by Tomi Kusser and Paige Wieseler.

The Spirit of Six award honors six Rapid City Central High School cheerleaders who died in a plane crash on March 17, 1968, as they returned from leading fans at the state championships in Sioux Falls. Since the disaster, the South Dakota Peace Officer's Association has presented trophies to cheerleaders considered best in crowd control, dress, sportsmanship and enthusiasm at the boys basketball tournaments. The Ladies Auxiliary expanded the program to include trophies for the cheerleaders judged tops at the state girls basketball events.