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November 22, 2000     The Arlington Times
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22, 2000 Pao A .Burr signs her to play next season / of Page A5 split on Cons of loom- to Class 4A. Page A5 Casey on her MVP Page A5 Director Loggers B next Page A5 Girls Club Boys Is sponsor- by Scott Morris The Arlington Times ARLINGTON -- The Kayla Burt sweepstakes is officially over -- she's going to be a Husky. Friends and family have known for a while now, since she gave a verbal commitment in the summer to play basketball for the Universi- ty of Washington. At the invitation of Arlington Hig.h School girls basketball head coach Mike Buckholz, a group of them congregated in the back room at La Hacienda restaurant on election night before the football game to celebrate Burt's signing, which officially took place later that week. Buckholz was clearly moved as he thanked the group of about 15 for showing up and wished Burt good luck. Any coach would be sad to think of Burt moving on. In her first three years as an Eagle, she scored 1,556 points. She helped lead Arlington to two consecu- tive state play- off appear- ances, and her penchant for leading come- backs with clutch late shooting resulted in a league championship and district title last year against tough competition, including a 3-0 record against the eventual state champs, Meadow- dale. "She's a lot of fun to watch, and a lot of fun to coach." MIKE BUCKHOLZ Arlington High School girls basketball coach Buckholz has said that Burt is the best athlete he's ever coached. That resume helped draw the attention of college recruiters, but UW head coach June Daugherty -- the winner of what one coach referred to this summer as "the Kayla Burt sweepstakes," said Burt really turned coaches' heads this summer while playing for the Yakima all-star team against blue- chip competition. "Kayla had an outstanding sum- mer," Daugherty said in a phone interview last week after every- thing was official. "She really rep- resented herself and the Arlington girls basketball program well. She really stood out on the Yakima summer team, and she put in a tremendous performance at the Adidas All-Star tournament. Her stock definitely went up." That made Daugherty's task tougher, even though she had somewhat of a headstart. Burr had already been contacted by several Pac-10 confer- ence schools, and the national exposure of play- ing on the Yaki- ma team in high- profile tourna- ments expanded the range of interest. "Obviously we had seen her," Daugherty said. "We'd been recruiting her for a while, but some of the other [national] coaches got a chance to see her for the first time." Eagle fans know all about her scoring, but Daugherty said she SEO'~E" MORRIS The Arlir~ton Times Arlington hoops star Kayla Burt (lower left) practices signing her letter of intent to the Universi- ty of Washington at La Hacienda restaurant Nov. 7. Later in the week, she made it official. Arlington head coach Mike Buckholz invited family and friends to the restaurant to congratulate Burr. was impressed with Burt's defense, something that Buckholz had chal- lenged her to improve at the begin- ning of last year. "Several times, she neutralized some of the best All-Americans of the country," Daugherty said. The other thing Daugherty liked was Burt's competitiveness. "This kid is all about the W," she said. At La Hacienda, Burt said a combination of factors tipped the scales toward Daugherty's Huskies. "It came down to staying close to home," Burt said. "Plus, I knew the [UW] coaches and players bet- ter, because I grew up here." Knowing that her family will get to see her play weighed heavily in Washington's favor. Another factor weighed in when Wesco 3A rival point guard Kristen O'Neill decid- ed to follow her big sister Kellie to the UW. Burt and the younger O'Neill became close friends both on and off the court while playing for the Yakima all-star team this summer. "That helped a lot, too, knowing that she had already verballed [a commitment to UW]," Burt said. Locking up two premier back- court recruits in her backyard was a nice bonus for Daugherty. "Fortunately for us, we were able to have two unbelievably tal- ented guards come out of the state of Washington," Daugherty said. "Nationally, they were consistently in the top 20, top 30, top 40 lists of recruits and we're talking about thousands of girls basketball play- ers. You're not named Adidas All- 'American or Nike All-American unless you've earned it." Wesco 3A fans will get one more year to watch the two stars go head-to-head at the point before they join forces next year. "She's a lot of fun to watch, and a lot of fun to coach," Buckholz said of Burt. "Players like her don't come along very often. When they do, you make the most of it. She's the kind of kid that becomes leg- endary. It isn't that we're sad to see her moving on. It's that we're really proud of her." at 8:30 p.m. the club~ ram. 435- Is currently grades eight for through twice Play one $10 are club~ 6 435-4442. Sports ath- High !uraged rn. Dec. 7 in lnasium. : Speaker will I Sports, cheer- by Scott Morris The Arlington Times DARRINGTON -- Early in her high school athletic career, Casey West committed what amounted to heresy in this hoops-crazy Tarheel town. As a sophomore, West decided to quit playing basketball so she could pursue her love for volley- ball fulltime. "They're still mad today," West said. This season, that dedication paid off when West was named the Northwest A League's Player of the Year. She also led Darrington to its second straight Class A state tour- nament despite having lost a lot of seniors three years ago from a team that placed eighth, at the Class B state tourney. West explained her decision to concentrate exclusively on volley- ball. "I wanted to go to college and play for a four-year school, and I knew that in basketball I did not have many good chances," West said. She also knew that to make that step up, she would have to play volleyball all year. "I knew that I had to work on everything, my digging and hitting, getting the approach down," West said. She even worked on her volley- ball skills during free moments. "I was doing the approach over and over, even doing it while I was SCOTr MORRIS The Arlington Times Darrington's Casey West (left, with arms upraisedl cele- brates a kill this season with her Logger teammates. walking home from school," she said. "I'd do the one ... two-three. You have to get it down." That dedication helped her lead by example, too. When head coach Greg Powell asked her to shift from outside hitter to middle hit- ter, West sacrificed bigger individ- ual stats that she could have racked up outside for the good of the team. That shift came about partly because West successfully per- suaded Darrington's point guard in the winter, Erin Nations, to join The last two years, she said she Powell's volleyball squad in the fall consciously tried to contribute to a when both were juniors, positive, tight-knit environmerit, The decision Was Smart, As ...... and it helped that the team me/n- seniors, both ended up making the bers seemed to really like each league's first team as all stars. Going into this season, Darring- ton had a strong defense and good passers but lacked height at the net. At 5-10, West was the team's tallest player, but also the best outside hitter. "Mr. Powell didn't know where to put me," West said, because her height would come in handy at the middle hitter position as a blocker. West adjusted well when Powell opted to put her in the middle, and she got plenty of kill opportunities at mad and also back- sliding from the right, because much of Darring- ton's success stemmed from mix- ing it up on offense to offset height disadvantages. "It wasn't that hard of an adjustment," West said. "It's hard to do the approach." The more important adjustment West made was from being one of many options three years ago to being the leader of a younger team her last two years. She said she really appreciated how well the '7 knew we were going to surprise people." CJ EY WEST Northwest A's Player of the Year other. "This was the best season ever," West said. "We had tons more fun." West said this season's league championship and second-place at districts were not surprising to her, despite dropping to third place in the league last year. "I knew we were going to sur- prise people," West said. "I told Mr. Powell, 'We're going to be better this year. We're going to win league, and no one's expecting it.'" She said one high- light for the team was beating La Con- ner. The two teams have worked up a lively rivalry in recent years, and West said her teammates especial- ly loved winning in front of the Braves' obnoxious fans. "I think we would've won state if we could have played with that much intensity [as in the La Con- ner game]," she said. At state, the Loggers came close to placing but fell short. Still, West said the season: was a success. Now, she said she will focus on more recent teams seemed to getpla~ng for a local club team and along, trying to sign on with a four-year "My freshman and sophomore college such as~ Central Washing- years, the team wasn't close," she ton University, or especially West- said. ern, where she Would love to play. "" The numbers are going decision might come School remains too Whether the Eagles will tip past the 1,200-stu- to 4A, in which the ete. ial election, s this year for both to state-mandated districts count their tool students in lOth on the first of each OVember and Decem- those three counts each high school's in for the fol- The idea behind a class system is to pit similar-sized schools against each other to make competition more fair, especially at playoff time. Arlington's first two counts left that school 6.5 students past the 4A threshold. Following the presidential analogy, Arling- ton High School Athletic Director Allen Jefferson likened the 4A scenario to George W. Bush, who barely won the initial counts in Florida. But what about the third count, which will be Dec. 1? "If I was to guess, I'd guess Bush," Jef- ferson said. In other words, Jefferson said he thinks that the high school will not have lost enough students to stay at 3A next year. That magic number is eight. The Octo- ber count was 1,219, but the November count got some coaches' hopes up when it came in at 1,194. Still, to pull the three-count average down to 1,199, the December count will have to be eight students fewer (1,186) than in November. Jefferson said he could see the pros and cons to both scenarios. "I can be torn in different ways," Jeffer- son said. "Looking at the budget, I want to go 4A." That's because if the Eagles stay at 3A, all of their rivals in the current Wesco 3A are moving up to 4A. Arlington would have to play the schools in the Northwest 3A league, all of which are in Skagit and Whatcom counties. "We would double our travel budget. From the A.D. point of view, I don't like to spend money," Jefferson said. "Looking at it the other way, you want to compete with schools your size." Jefferson added that even if the count allows Arlington to stay 3A, schools always have the option to play at a higher level. He seemed to prefer that option, ............................ BUBBLE page A6