CHICAGO — Malta's Sophia Stiles is the Gatorade Montana girls basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The award was announced Monday. 

Stiles, who will play for the University of Montana, played a key role as the M-ettes were second place at the State B girls tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark this past weekend. Malta was the two-time defending champion. 

Stiles is the second Gatorade Montana girls basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Malta High School. In 1995-96, forward Linda Cummings received the honor. 

The Gatorade Company is in its 32nd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Stiles as Montana’s best high school girls basketball player. She is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National girls basketball Player of the Year award announced in March.

Stiles, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, pumped in 22 points for the M-ettes (24-2) in the championship game, a 34-33 setback to Fairfield. Stiles averaged 21.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 4.3 steals and 1.1 steals through 23 games. A three-time first-team All-State selection, Stiles was the MVP of the 2015 state tournament. 

A six-time Class B state champion with the Malta track and field team, Stiles has served on the Malta High student council as the secretary and vice president. She has volunteered locally with the Malta Food Bank and as a youth basketball camp counselor. “Sophia has the ability to make big plays over and over,” said Malta coach Nate Hammond. “She excels in big games, and her competitiveness and drive is the best I have ever coached and probably ever will.”

Stiles has maintained a weighted 3.86 GPA in the classroom. 

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. 

As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Stiles will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 

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