PORTLAND – If you were ever looking for Kayla Burchill, there’s a good chance you could find her on the nearest basketball court.

From the time her father Tim first put a miniature basketball in her hands as she was lying in her crib, basketball has helped define Burchill’s life.

She never thought about trying any other sport. Oh, she tried dancing when she was younger.

But, she said, “I was awkwardly tall,” and those lessons never went very far.

On the basketball court, however, she could dance. Burchill finished with 1,279 career points, playing on two Class A state championship teams and in two other regional finals.

And now that it’s over, she said her greatest memories will be of her teammates. Especially those of her senior season.

“We became so close this year,” she said. “We all worked really hard together and never had any drama in the background. The way you saw us play on the court is the way we were all the time.”

Burchill is the Maine Sunday Telegram MVP for girls’ basketball. She helped the young Rams earn the No.1 seed in the Western Class A tournament and advance to the regional final, where they lost 41-40 in overtime to eventual state champion McAuley.

She earned the honor over several contenders, including York’s Nicole Taylor, McAuley’s Rebecca Knight and Alexa Coulombe and Leavitt’s Courtney Anderson, because of the burden she carried.

Entering the season, everyone knew that the 6-foot Burchill would be Deering’s primary scorer, inside player and leader. And she didn’t disappoint.

Burchill, who was named Maine’s Miss Basketball, led Deering with 22.1 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. She averaged 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals and shot 85 percent from the foul line.

“We’re not 19-2 without her,” said Rams Coach Mike Murphy. “She really changed her game this year for us to be as competitive as we were.

“There were a lot of people who doubted that she could play inside for us. She was definitely our quiet leader.”

Opposing coaches knew they had to contain Burchill to have a chance of beating the Rams.

“We threw everything but the kitchen sink at her,” said Biddeford Brian Heal. “We played a box-and-one. We covered her with bigs, covered her with guards.

“I thought we did an excellent job, but at the end of the night you looked up and she had 18 and made it look easy.

Murphy gave Burchill the team’s sportsmanship award this year, as much for the way she didn’t react when provoked as how she played.

“Most kids would have had it with the stuff she had to endure,” he said. “But she kept her hands to herself and 99 percent of the time didn’t push off. She handled it with a lot of maturity for a kid who had everything thrown at her.”

“I just went out and played the game,”said Burchill. “I knew if we all worked as hard as we could, the game would take care of itself.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com