HoopGurlz All-State '06

HoopGurlz Publisher
Posted Mar 16, 2006


The explosion in girl's basketball in the state of Washington has produced the most talented All-State team in years.

STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON

"She's so good, she ought to forego her senior year."
- Woodinville coach Steve Segadelli on Angie Bjorklund


Yes, we admit it. We almost succumbed to the same temptations. We've followed them for years, acknowledged their greatness so many times that we started looking for the next best thing.


Sara Mosiman of King's
That NBT, known in medical circles as Yankees hateritis, or its afflicted simply as haters, is a nasty thing. It almost caused us to look right past Angie Bjorklund of University and Regina Rogers of Chief Sealth, even though, by any criteria you want to apply, they clearly were the best two players in the state of Washington this past season.

In discussing the season's best with others the past few weeks, the conversation seemed always to go like this, "Yeah, Angie. Yeah, Regina. But who else???"

How about no one else? Are we really so loathe to praise greatness too often? Can you actually peer upon and appreciate, say, the Mona Lisa or the Pyramids too much?

We think not. Others may have different criteria. Maybe it's the ability to show up for a photo shoot or indispensibility. Or revelation of insiderism or wisdom by avoiding the obvious pick. Ours are simple - is the player the most talented, did she alter her opponents' game plans, did she help her team win pretty big? For Bjorklund and Rogers, it was check, check and check.

Sara Mosiman of King's fits those criteria. And it's no doubt we've been big fans, who will enjoy trekking down to Montlake the next four years to watch her play for the Huskies. We've called her the best athlete in the state who wears a basketball uniform, knowing full well that Alex Montgomery is a few inches taller and maybe rises above all a little more. But "Mo" has very good size for a guard, is strong and very fast and, furthermore, is skilled with the basketball and creative. She's a triple threat athlete, excelling in volleyball and track as well. And she's led King's to two straight State 2A championships.

So, yeah, Mosiman fits the criteria, just not to the degree that Bjorklund and Rogers do. She probably did not occupy an entire opposing team's attention on a daily basis, and you cannot really say with great definition that she was the most or best at anything on a basketball floor. Though, make no mistake, she occupies a lot of attention and does a lot of things very well.


Regina Rogers of Sealth
But Bjorklund is the best shooter in the state and Rogers is the most powerful player. It became fashionable to write, even on this website, that Issaquah and others "stopped" Rogers, or that Kentwood and others "stopped" Bjorklund. Truth is, teams put nearly every resource at their disposal to keep either from blowing up and embarrassing them. Rogers got Sealth a basket whenever she felt like it, including the game-winner in the State 3A championship game. That was a shot that was not going to be denied.

And how about Bjorklund against Kentwood? The genius of the Conquerors' diamond-and-one defense is that it slowed Bjorklund and quelled her teammates. She scored 15 points, after all, and none more impressive, maybe all season, than her game-winning three-pointer, which she scored off a fade cut and catch-and-shoot mode with the entire Tacoma Dome knowing it was coming.

Afterward, Conks coach Keith Hennig exited his team's locker room to find Bjorklund right outside, surrounded by reporters. "You just had to make that shot," Hennig told Bjorklund.

Yes, she did. She did because Bjorklund might be the most fundamentally sound and mentally tough player in the nation. That's why Pat Summitt criss-crossed the country with Bjorklund last summer to secure the junior's commitment to Tennessee.

If you haven't guessed by now, Bjorklund is our state Player of the Year (also presented by NYICE Apparel). Just like she was last year and will be next year, if she's still deserving, and there's no reason to think she won't be.


Angie Bjorklund of University
Bjorklund's got to deal with the fact that teams will follow the lead of Mead (of Spokane), Kentwood, Prairie and Auburn Riverside, all of which assigned smaller but quicker defenders to her with some success. She'll have to expect that Volunteer opponents may have quicker, but just-as-tall defenders awaiting her.

However, Bjorklund's weakness is a nit compared to a couple gaping holes in Rogers' game. Her stamina needs to improve, and with it her inclincation to get into foul trouble and get out-motored in the open court by smaller opponents. So too does her inside footwork and offensive repetoire; the drop-step-and-bull-through-the-opposing-team move isn't going to play for long on the collegiate level.

Bjorklund has led University to two straight 4A semifinal berths, which is comparable to Rogers' back-to-back 3A titles when considering level of competition and supporting cast. On the latter note, Bjorklund decisively is trumped by Rogers. While Tonya Schnibbe and Dara Zack are fine players, they are not Christina Nzekwe, who may the most hotly pursued Washington prospect left on the board; Nia Jackson, who could make most all-state squads, and Colleen Betteridge, who will joining Washington State next fall.

It's not often a state of our size produces a player of Angie Bjorklund's caliber. And if she's the once-in-a-decade comet flashing across starry nights, we're going to watch in awe as often as we can.


(CLICK ON NAMES FOR PROFILES)

First Team


Angie Bjorklund
Angie Bjorklund
6-0 junior guard
University High School

Comment: The best player in the state, and one of the top five in the country. Has outstanding fundamentals, including footwork and ability to work for shot, plus a picture-perfect release. Already committed to Tennessee.

LaCale Pringle
-Buchanon
LaCale Pringle-Buchanon
5-10 senior guard
Garfield High School

Comment: Very strong and quick, with the highest basketball IQ in the state. Same-everytime release makes the net snap from anywhere on the court. Can be intimidating on defense. Look for early contributions at Pepperdine.

Second Team


Alex Montgomery
Alex Montgomery
5-11 junior forward
Lincoln High School

Comment: One of the most athletic basketball players in the country, she virtually is unstoppable in the open court once within 12 feet. With leaping ability, quickness and giant wingspan, can be extremely disruptive on defense.

LeeAnn Palo
LeeAnn Palo
5-8 senior guard
Woodinville High School

Comment: Strong inside-outside scorer and creative passer, Palo took a huge leap in status among the state's guards by going into attack mode more. She could be an immediate contributor at Utah State next year.


Honorable Mention - G Ashley Corral, so., Prairie; W Tara Cronin, jr., Gonzaga Prep; G Salena Dickerson, sr., Federal Way; G Sarah Morton, jr., Monroe; P Melissa Reich, Bellevue Christian; G Melisa Richardson, sr., Issaquah; G Courtney Vandersloot, jr., Kentwood.


Kathy Gibson

Kathy Gibson
Issaquah High School

Comment: Took a group of guards and twice came inches from taking down Sealth, the biggest, most daunting team in the state in years. Has her players prepared and treats them with respect and sensitivity.



Madison
Yakaboski
G Daidra Brown, Kennedy
F Brittany Gray, Bainbridge
G Nichole Jackson, Auburn Riverside
G Lindsey Moore, Kentwood
G Madison Yakaboski, Mount Si

Looks to be another bountiful Class in the backcourt, with Yakaboski on track as the state's next McDonald's All-American. Gray could be state's dominant inside player in two years.



NOTE: NYICE Apparel and HoopGurlz.com will present each honoree with an All-State t-shirt. We will attempt to contact all recipients for shirt sizes. If you or your child has been honored here, you can help us by emailing a shirt size to hoopgurlz@comcast.net.



Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002).



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