February 11, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Omaha Benson Magnet School girls basketball program has a preseason tradition involving a pizza-fueled sleepover on the eve of the first game.

Senior Kianna Ibis, who will play for Arizona State next season after graduation, is now preparing for what is the equivalent of a four-year “sleepover” as she looks ahead to Arizona State University after graduating from Benson.

“The weather,” Ibis quipped on a recent and particularly frigid afternoon when the senior was asked what she’s most looking forward to as she anticipates life in sunny Tempe. “The campus is beautiful. The program is great and I love the coaching staff. They are just amazing. They are like a family down there, just like we are here at Benson.”

Ibis averaged 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds last year as she propelled the 26-2 Bunnies to their first girls basketball championship in the school’s 110-year history. Among her many honors is her selection to the First Team All-State squad in each of the past two seasons. She was the only player from the metro named to last year’s First Team roster.

“For Benson she means we have another chance at a run for the state title,” says Benson co-coach Pat Holston. “For Arizona State she means that they get someone with the potential to develop into an All-American-caliber player. Kianna is not only a great shooter, but she’s also a great defender. She’s a complete athlete…the total package. She means a lot to any team she’s on.”

The long and lanky 6-footer is known for a spin move that has the ability to leave defenders in a heady daze. It’s a parquet floor ballet that most often results in a pair of points coming as a result of her deadly left-handed hook shot.

If her dietary regimen is any indication, it’s a good bet that Ibis may have an inch or two to gain before her Pac-12 career is over.

“Food is one of my guilty pleasures,” says the standout recruit who gets pumped for a game listening to R&B. “A whole bag of Cheetos in one sitting. A container of ice cream. Just the usual, normal stuff,” she winks.

“To win state for the first time in school history was huge,” explains Ibis, a Sioux City native whose local impact was immediate when she started as a freshman for Benson. When the buzzer sounded as the Bunnies topped Bellevue West 47-43 in last year’s championship game, Ibis says she didn’t know quite how to react.

“It took a while for it to sink in,” says Ibis, who is known simply as “Kee” by her teammates. “The thing I’ll never forget…the tears of joy.”

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