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Murray Journal

MHS women’s basketball star Shay Potter is an all-American honorable mention athlete up in ‘Big Sky Country’

May 07, 2018 04:01PM ● By Carl Fauver

Murray High graduate Shay Potter is an honorable mention collegiate all-American basketball player. (Montana Tech)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

For the second month in a row we have an outstanding former Murray High School basketball center who’s now tearing things up in college.

Last month we updated you on former MHS star David Collette who helped lead his University of Utah team to the final four of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in New York’s Madison Square Garden. He’s a U of U senior who now hopes to play in the NBA or Europe.

This time around, it’s 2016 Murray High School graduate Shay Potter who’s making big news in a small city.

“There’s not much to do in Butte, Montana, so the community really supports our basketball teams, men and women,” said the Montana Tech sophomore. “But I love it here. It’s a small enough school that I know all my professors personally. And I get to play a lot in our games.”

Potter, in fact, played enough this past season to be named to the Frontier Conference Women’s Basketball All-Conference team.  Additionally, she was an all-American honorable mention honoree. And most recently, Shay was named to the Academic All-Conference team.

Montana Tech is easy to get to by simply jumping on I-15 in Murray and driving north 422 miles. The interstate leads into Montana’s fifth-largest city. Butte is the Silver Bow county seat, with a combined city/county population of just over 30,000. That’s a far cry from the 60,000 who lived there a century ago, when gold and silver prospectors made Butte the largest city west of the Mississippi River, between San Francisco and Chicago.

Most important: Shay says it’s just the right size for her.

“We have a Walmart… and one movie theater, with two screens,” Potter said. “But the campus is beautiful, the buildings are old and breathtaking. It has a lot of character.”

Shay’s father, Paul Potter, says his oldest of three children found Montana Tech with a pencil, map and protractor.

“Shay played on four different AAU teams and didn’t always have a positive experience,” he said. “She discovered she didn’t really want to play at the division one level, even though many of those schools were recruiting her. So she drew a circle on a map with a 500-mile radius, and began investigating the schools outside Utah, but inside the circle.”

Ultimately Potter wants to be a physical therapist and discovered Montana Tech offers a highly respected pre-med program.

“I’m a little injury prone and have spent a lot of time working with physical therapists,” Shay said. “They always promised me they’d get me back out playing again, and they have. I think my experiences will be something I can share with my physical therapy patients someday.”

Potter was so confident in her selection of Montana Tech, that after visiting the campus in the fall of her senior year at Murray she chose to attend the school without making any other official recruiting visits to any other schools.

“Tech offered Shay a four-year, 100 percent full ride scholarship,” her dad added. “It’s a science-only school with very high academic standards. So we were thrilled.”

So too, it seems, was Orediggers women’s basketball head coach Carly Sanon.

“It was great,” Potter added. “(Coach Sanon) drove all the way down from Butte for my national letter of intent signing ceremony, at Murray High.”

Sanon certainly isn’t the first of Shay’s coaches to appreciate her abilities and work ethic.

“Shay was a dream to coach,” said her former Murray girls’ basketball head coach Holly Gillette. “She has a great work ethic, is hungry to learn and loves the game. She left a lasting mark on Murray basketball and I’m proud of the athlete she is and the person she is.”

Gillette coached Potter during her junior and senior seasons as a Spartan, while former head coach – and now MHS co-athletic director – Lisa White guided her in ninth and 10th grade, from the sideline.

“Coach Gillette and Coach White were both amazing,” Shay said. “They were awesome high school coaches who pushed me to be better. It was an amazing experience.”

Despite suffering a pair of injuries – at the start of her freshman and sophomore years at Montana Tech – Potter evolved into a key member of the team.  As a freshman she played about 9 minutes per game, averaging 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds. 

Last season – as the Orediggers’ starting center – those numbers jumped to 11 points and 7 boards per game.

But Dad likes some other numbers even more.

“Shay graduated from Murray High School with a 3.95 grade point average and up at Montana Tech it’s now 3.86,” Paul Potter said.

Competing at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level, last winter Potter’s team finished a game under .500, at 15-16. Next year she wants much more – for herself and the team.

“Our team goal is to get into the NAIA national tournament,” Shay said. “And personally, I hope to be All-Conference again and maybe even a first team All-American.”

“We are extremely proud of her performance both academically and athletically,” Paul Potter concluded. “Her success has succeeded all of our expectations.”

A common trend for former Murray High School basketball centers, female and male.