CHEYENNE – Cheyenna Alvarado never takes a play off.
The second-year starter for the Cheyenne East girls is consistently in on every play: fighting for a rebound, getting on the floor for a loose ball, deflecting passes. It doesn’t matter what’s going on on the court, Alvarado is typically involved.
“She’s just that blue-collared kid that’s going to go in and give you everything she has every game,” East coach Eric Westling said. “She does all those little things, I’ve coached her since eighth grade and she’s always been that kid that just does little things and she takes pride in that.
“She’s willing to sacrifice being “the kid” to help our team win games.”
Alvarado has helped the Lady Thunderbirds secure a No. 1 seed in this year’s Class 4A state tournament. The T-Birds (18-2) will tip-off with Star Valley in the quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Friday at the Ford Wyoming Center.
East currently has the No. 2 scoring offense in the state, averaging 60.5 points per contest. Its defense has been a big reason why it has the ability to score so much, though. With 14.3 steals per game, the Lady T-Birds always seem to turn defense into offense, and Alvarado is a big reason why.
“My defense has grown the most over the season,” said Alvarado, who averages 2.6 steals a game. “My energy and being able to get down the floor and getting back on defense (have helped me improve).”
Another aspect where the senior has said she’s grown is in the leadership category. With a young backcourt beside her that is certain to be the future of the T-Birds’ program in sophomore Boden Liljedahl and freshman Bradie Schlabs, she’s hoping she can leave an impact with the players and the program.
“I tell them to just need show up and give it your all,” Alvarado said. “I try to not let them get things in their head, and I just try to be a good teammate and a good leader.”
Her contributions are anything but few and far between. Aside from the leadership aspect, Alvarado scores 9.0 points per game and snags 3.7 rebounds, both of which rank third on the T-Birds’ roster.
However, one thing that Alvarado is certain to leave behind is the grit and determination she plays with. It can provide energy to the team in its own right.
“Her toughness is her biggest strength,” Westling said. “She’s not going to back down from anybody, she’s not that kid to ever step back, she’s always going to step up.”
Along with the rest of Class 3A and 4A, last season’s state tournament was unexpectedly stripped away from East where it was in the same scenario, carrying a one-seed into the state tournament after winning the regional championship.
This year is a new opportunity for Alvarado and East to take that step and win a state title.
“I’m so excited to get the chance for this,” Alvarado said. “We didn’t get a chance last year, the seniors didn’t get a chance last year, so I want to take my chances as a senior to win state with everybody.”