End of a Great High School Career at Chandler Preparatory Academy
Endings and beginnings—this is what May 24 was for Justine Cooper. It was the end of a great high school career at Chandler Preparatory Academy and the beginning of the next part of her life.
After her freshman year, Cooper left the comforts of her home school, Salt River High School, where she was an excellent student and already a top-notch athlete, to attend Chandler Prep. During her three years at Chandler Prep, she had a remarkable learning and athletic experience. Jumping into one of the most demanding academic schools in the state was not an easy task. At first, the struggle of getting used to the Socratic method and the amount of homework was a bit overwhelming.
In her sophomore year, Cooper took pre-calculus, poetry, choir, chemistry, Spanish 2 and humane letters (a two-hour class of history and literature). On the athletic field is where Cooper figuratively and literally found her stride. She participated in cross-country, basketball and softball.
In cross-country she was one of the top runners on the team, placing 25th in the state meet and earning Honorable Mention All-State. On the basketball court, Cooper led the team in almost every statistical category. The team reached the Elite 8, for its deepest run in the state playoffs in school history. As result of her play, Cooper was named the Co-Region Player of the Year, First Team All-Region, and Second Team All-State. Jumping straight into softball, Cooper was a fixture at the leadoff spot and the starting second baseman. She was voted First Team All-Region and Second Team All-State.
Cooper earned the Iron Titan Award for participating in three seasons of sports and maintaining a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.
In junior year things became a little easier in the classroom. Cooper was taking calculus 1, physics 1, Spanish 3, drama, economics and humane letters. She started to feel more comfortable both in the classroom and on the field/court. Cooper once again finished 25th in the state in cross-country while helping lead the team to its highest finish in the state meet.
On the basketball court, she led the team to its first Final 4 while winning Region Player of the Year for the second year in a row, First Team All-Region and First Team All-State. About three-quarters of the way through the season, she surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career. On the diamond she was solid as ever, playing second base, shortstop and even pitching a little. Cooper earned First Team All-Region for the second straight year.
This year she also added a fourth sport, track. In the state track meet she placed 12th in the 3,200-meter run, placed 15th in the 1,600-meter run and was a member of the 4x800 state championship relay team. She once again received the Iron Titan Award for playing three seasons of sports and maintaining a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. Cooper was also awarded the Titan of the Year Award, an annual award given to a varsity athlete who has maintained exemplary character while providing strong leadership through multiple seasons of sports.
Senior year was all about finishing strong. The school day continued to be very challenging, with Cooper taking all honors courses in calculus 2, physics 2, art, drama, Spanish 4 and humane letters. Also, she had to complete her 17-page senior thesis and defend it in front of three Chandler Prep faculty members. On the cross-country course, she saw major improvements, finishing sixth in state and earning First Team All-State. She also led the team to a third-place finish, the best in school history.
Basketball was her favorite sport, and she didn’t disappoint on the court. Averaging close to a triple-double (20 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, 8+ assists per game), she once again led her team back to the Final 4, narrowly losing to the state champion. In that game she scored 22 of the team’s 30 points. For the third time in three years she was awarded the Region Player of the Year and First Team All-Region; for the second time she was named to the First Team All-State. This year, while being one of the most dominating players in all 2A, she was named the 2A Player of the Year. She finished her career with 1,786 points in a Chandler Prep uniform, the sixth-highest point total in 2A history. She leaves the school as the leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
After a long basketball season, Cooper once again jumped onto the softball field with no preseason practice and was a solid contributor to a solid club. She was named First Team All-Region for the third consecutive year. At the end-of-the-year awards ceremony, Cooper was once again honored as the Titan of the Year. Cooper was a unanimous selection to the Chandler Prep Athletic Hall of Fame. All her hard work paid off to be awarded this prestigious honor.
Justine Cooper will go down as arguably the most talented all-around scholar-athlete in school history. She will continue her education and basketball career at Pima Community College, playing for coach Todd Holthaus. Pima CC finished fifth in the 2019 NJCAA Division II season. Congrats Justine, well done!