If there was one word to describe Kelsey Switzer’s value to the Bret Harte Bullfrogs girls’ basketball team, it would be indispensable.
The senior guard was worth the price of admission, but more importantly, her leadership and playmaking abilities helped navigate the Bullfrogs through a brutal Mother Lode League schedule.
With Switzer leading the charge, Bret Harte dethroned defending MLL champions Argonaut twice and swept cross-county rival Calaveras in a three-game series en route to a 14-1 record in 2013-14.
“When you have a player that is scoring nearly 19 points a game, it’s hard to not have that player,” said Bullfrogs head coach Ronnie Davis. “If we didn’t have Kelsey Switzer, would we have the same success? I’m not sure, but at the same time, it would have been a different road. I think there’s no doubt that it could have been a different road. I think our team this year — we had so much success — because our team bought into a team philosophy.”
With an unselfish squad, Bret Harte captured its first outright league title since the 2004-05 season and Switzer earned the MLL’s Most Outstanding Player of the Year award.
Switzer had many highlights throughout the season, but her three-game performance against Summerville sticks out.
Switzer tallied a career-high 34 points in a 61-33 win over Summerville in early January. In that game, she shot 11 of 24 from the field (46 percent) and slotted 11 of 13 free throws. In three matches against the Bears, the 5-foot-9 sharpshooter averaged nearly 20 points and four steals per contest.
“The best all-around player that we saw, I would think it was the guard from Bret Harte,” said Summerville head coach Dave Woods. “That was our league MVP. Switzer. I don’t think Bret Harte would have won our league without Switzer. She was a total impact player.”
For the season, Switzer was one of the most consistent players in all of Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. She scored in double figures in every game except two and netted 15 points or more 21 times.
Despite opposing teams structuring its defensive game plan around Switzer, she was still able to average 18.9 points, 2.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 3.8 steals and a block per outing.
For Kelsey Switzer’s ability to take over a game and help guide the Bullfrogs to a league title, the senior guard is The Union Democrat’s 2013-14 Co-Most Valuable Player.
“It’s been quite a while since a player has averaged about 19 points a game at Bret Harte consistently,” Davis said. “I think players like her come along every once in a while. She just has that natural athleticism and ability. Some players have certain aspects of the game, but not all. Some of her straight up athletic ability will be hard to replace.”
After winning the MLL crown, Bret Harte received the No. 6 seed in the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.
With Switzer’s team-best 14 points, the Bullfrogs beat No. 11 Los Banos 46-35 in Angels Camp and advanced to the second round. That victory marked the program’s first playoff win in five years.
Switzer recorded a game-high 19 points in the quarterfinals, but Bret Harte came up short, losing to Colfax on the road.
The Bullfrogs started off the year winning two tournaments and capped off the season with an impressive 24-5 overall record.
“I was extremely proud of our girls,” Davis said. “They set goals. They worked their butts off. I couldn’t be happier with her and my entire team. We had a great team effort and team chemistry. We had an unbelievable season. It was a pleasure to coach this team.”
Switzer will continue her basketball career on scholarship at the University of Saint Mary, an NAIA program, in Leavenworth, Kansas next fall.
She was accepted into the college on April 1 and will likely major in kinesiology. Saint Mary coaches have indicated that she will start at point guard.
Although, Switzer, a 3.5 GPA student, is still in high school, she already has one college ambition.
“I want to try to become an All-American,” Switzer said. “That’s one of my big goals.”