Katasha Artis, a 6-foot senior forward at South Shore High School in Brooklyn, came to SI's attention late in December after she scored 72 points in a 131-14 defeat of Erasmus Hall to break the New York State girls' single-game scoring record by 10 points. That's when she became one of the candidates for senior writer Douglas S. Looney's special extended version of our weekly feature FACES IN THE CROWD, which begins on page 90.
Giving recognition to the accomplishments of little-known athletes is the purpose of FACES IN THE CROWD, which evolved from a section in the first issue of SI (Aug. 16, 1954) called PAT ON THE BACK. But before we could acknowledge Katasha's performance, another girl did her one better. Felice Mann of Burgard Vocational High in Buffalo eclipsed Katasha's nine-week-old mark by scoring 73 points on Feb. 20. Thus, Felice is featured in Looney's article, and Katasha became one of the painful cuts we often have to make in patting just six backs a week.
But Katasha, record holder or not, is such an outstanding young woman that we feel compelled to tell of her here. While growing up in Brownsville, one of the toughest sections of New York City, she hit the books so hard that she was allowed to skip the eighth grade. Although she didn't start to play basketball until high school—"Just for something to do," she says—she was attracting the notice of college coaches by her junior year. Recruiters had a hard time reaching her, though, because there is no telephone in the apartment where she lives with her mother, Phyllis, and her sisters, Valerie, 13, and Odessa, 5. "My mother always told us things are never as dark as they appear," says Katasha. "There's always a silver lining to the dark cloud. Just keep trying."
She did, and next fall Katasha will go to the University of Virginia on a basketball scholarship. As her South Shore coach, Barry Goldsmith, says, "Here's a chance for Katasha to get the best this country has to offer."
Of the growing attention she has gotten, Katasha says gently, "It makes my mother really happy. And it makes me happy to see her happy."
P.S. Sports Feelings, the traveling exhibition of photos from SI and the Soviet magazine Olympic Panorama, opened in Los Angeles this week. The show will be at UCLA's John Wooden Center until April 13 before a run at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry from July 18 through Sept. 9.
Let's Face it, Katasha rates some recognition.