Kristen Bevis didn't know what to expect when she moved to El Toro from Cabot, Ark., six weeks ago.
"Our real estate agent just said El Toro had a good basketball program," Bevis said. "I said, 'I sure hope so.' "
Greg Yeck, El Toro girls' coach, didn't know what to expect from Bevis.
"She just walked in our gym on the first day of practice," Yeck said. "I was ready to throw her over to the junior varsity."
Then Bevis picked up a ball and started shooting.
Swish, bank, boom. Swish, bank, boom. Swish, bank . . .
"It was incredible," Yeck said. "She was hitting them from all sides. You'd expect a new kid to be nervous. To just throw airballs or something. But Kristen just kept making them, shot after shot. I put her with the varsity that second."
Since then, Bevis, a junior, has done nothing but strengthen one of the top-ranked programs in Orange County.
"I tried to keep her a secret at first," Yeck said. "Other coaches would see her totals in the paper and ask me, 'Who's this Bevis person?' I'd just play dumb and say it must've been a misprint."
Bevis, The Times' player of the week, averaged 16 points in four games to lead the Chargers (10-0) to the Savanna tournament title last week.
Bevis shot 57% from the field and 90% (10 of 11) from the free throw line. She also had 21 rebounds, 9 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocked shots, and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
In Saturday's 80-56 championship victory over third-ranked Marina, Bevis, a 5-foot 8-inch guard, took over for Elaine Youngs, the Chargers' 6-2 star center, when Youngs suffered a slightly sprained ankle in the second quarter.
"The funny thing is, Kristen wasn't even a starter for us in that game," Yeck said. "She was late for the team bus that night, so I put her on the bench. Then, when Elaine came out, Kristen went in and did an incredible job."
Bevis is quick to point out that it was "a total team effort" that helped El Toro win Saturday night. And she was very surprised when she learned she had scored a career- and game-high 27 points.
"My best ever was 22 back in Cabot," Bevis said. "And we had a really good program there, too.
This season, Bevis is averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds a game.
But Bevis' speciality is free throws. She is 24 of 27 (89%). Yeck said that Bevis made 82 of 85 during a recent practice.
"She's Ms. Consistency," Yeck said. "The first time I saw her shoot foul shots, I said this is the one who'll be shooting all our technicals from now on."
Though Bevis says she doesn't see herself as having any more talent than her teammates, she does admit to having one advantage.
"When I first came here, everyone kept talking about CIF," she said. "I didn't know what that was, and now I don't really understand the (rivalries) we're supposed to have with other teams, like Capo (Capistrano Valley) and Mission (Viejo).
"That takes some pressure off me. I play every game the same, no matter who we're playing.
"My coach at Cabot told me, if I have to move to California, then make the best of it," Bevis said. "I think I am."
El Toro High School
Height, Class: 5-8, Jr.
Last Week: Bevis averaged 16 points in 4 games to lead the Chargers (10-0) to the Savanna tournament title last week. Bevis shot 57% from the field and 90% (10 of 11) from the free throw line. She had 21 rebounds, 9 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocked shots, and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Season: Bevis averages 14 points and 6 rebounds a game. She has made 24 of 27 (89%) free throws.