FAIRBANKS — Ruthy Hebard was among the best high school girls basketball players in the state this year. Her Gatorade Alaska Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor is sufficient proof.
On Thursday through Monday in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the West Valley High School sophomore will try to impress USA Basketball officials at tryouts for the national under-17 women’s team.
Hebard, a 6-foot-3 center, is among 162 players from around the country who are hoping to earn one of 12 spots on the Team USA roster for the Women’s Under-17 World Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia, from June 28 to July 6.
“I’m pretty nervous,’’ Hebard said during a cellphone interview Friday night. “There’s some girls 6-9, but I’m happy to go play against them and get the experience.”
Hebard’s parents, according to her father, John, were recommended by a college basketball coach to apply with Colorado Springs-based USA Basketball for a tryout for Ruthy for the Team USA women’s under-17 squad.
College coaches, because of NCAA rules, cannot contact Ruthy herself until Sept. 1, when she’s a junior at West Valley.
Before then, the coaches are allowed to contact West Valley head coach Jessie Craig or Ryan Hales, the Chugiak High School coach who coached Ruthy last summer on the Alaska Lady Hoops traveling team. Craig or Hales can then inform Hebard’s parents of college coaches’ interest in their daughter. Hebard’s parents can decide if they want to speak with any college
It’s an immeasurable experience to get to compete for an opportunity to represent your country and play against some of the best under-17 female players on the planet. The world championship tournament consists of 12 teams in four pools, and the United States is in Pool D with China, France and Mali.
Even if Ruthy Hebard isn’t playing in world championship next month, the experience in Colorado Springs should benefit her for her next two seasons of high school basketball, and for summer AAU ball and for the college that she’ll eventually decide to attend and play.
“I’m going to push myself down there, and I’m going to push myself to be at their level,’’ she said of the national team tryouts.
And the best-case scenario is that 38 days from today, she’ll be taking shots and battling for rebounds on a court in Bratislava while wearing a red, white and blue jersey of her country.
“It would feel awesome, and I would have a lot of confidence in myself,” Hebard said.
Hebard helped West Valley this past season win the Mid Alaska Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and place third at the Class 4A girls state tournament in Anchorage.
She averaged a double-
double of 21.6 points and 14.0 rebounds per game in 2013-14 for the Wolfpack. She also collected 3.0 steals and dispensed 2.7 assists per contest.
“I always try to play with a smile and I try to get my teammates engaged in the game,” Hebard said. “I try my hardest to be a leader.
“I try to work hard, and I encourage my teammates to do their best,” she added.
She’ll be working hard in Colorado Springs to get chance to play against the world.
Northern Colorado sophomore Alisha Allen, a Lathrop graduate, posted a pair of top-10 finishes last week in the Big Sky Conference Track and Field Championships in Flagstaff, Arizona. Allen placed seventh Thursday in the heptathlon, compiling 4,810 points. The heptathlon consists of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 dash, long jump, javelin throw and 800 run. On Saturday, she reached 38 feet, 2 3/4 inches to place eighth in the women’s triple jump. ... University of Arizona junior Molly Callahan, a West Valley grad, placed 24th in 17 minutes 27.04 seconds in the women’s 5,000-meter run during the Pacific 12 Conference Championships in Pullman, Washington, on Friday and Saturday. Oregon senior and Kodiak grad Trevor Dunbar was runner-up in the men’s 5,000 in 13:45.26. ... Carroll College (Montana) freshman Macala Fifield, from Monroe Catholic, was runner-up in 2:20.90 in the women’s 800 run at the Tom Gage Classic in Missoula, Montana, on May 9.
• Freshman infielder and North Pole grad Allison Norton finished her first season for the Bethany Lutheran College softball team as its fourth’s leading hitter. Norton batted .284 with 29 hits in 102 at-bats for the NCAA Division III program in Mankato, Minnesota. She had 15 RBI, four doubles and six runs scored while starting all 36 games for the 9-27 Vikings of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Guard Brad Oleson, of North Pole, had eight points, including two 3-pointers, and contributed two assists and a rebound for FC Barcelona in a 93-78 win over CSKA Moscow in Sunday’s third-place basketball game of the Euroleague Final Four in Milan. Oleson, the all-time leading scorer for the Alaska Nanooks men’s basketball team, also had eight points, including two treys, in Friday’s 100-62 semifinal loss to eventual runner-up Real Madrid. ... Connecticut Sun forward and Chugiak grad Kelsey Griffin had eight points and eight rebounds Sunday for the Connecticut Sun in a 90-87 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in a WNBA game in Minneapolis.