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Fairbanksan makes national deaf basketball team

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Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 12:00 am

FAIRBANKS — West Valley grad and current Gallaudet University basketball player Lawjen Ashmore has been selected to play for Team USA at the U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships.

Ashmore is one of 11 players selected to represent their country July 4-12 in Samsun, Turkey.

To make the world championships team, Ashmore first had to be nominated by Gallaudet University head coach Stephanie Stevens. Gallaudet University is a NCAA Division II school in Washington, D.C.

Former Wolfpack girls basketball coach Steve Caciari said that he has been working with Ashmore at the Student Recreation Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since she found out she made the team. Caciari said he was “delighted” to help Ashmore get ready for the world championships.

“I felt great to able to play again after being injured,” Ashmore wrote in an email to the News-Miner.

The duo also was joined by Hannah Mattson, another former Wolfpack, at the workouts.

“She’s been very coachable,” Caciari said by cellphone on Thursday. “She’s always trying to get better.”

Caciari said that they worked on every part of the game in preparation for the world championships.

Caciari added that Ashmore’s love for basketball helped her go from a “great player” her junior season at West Valley to a “special player” her senior season.

“She has a lot of pride in out-working others,” Caciari said.

During her time at West Valley, Caciari used Ashmore as a shutdown defender because of her quickness and anticipation.

“She would defend the other team’s best player,” Caciari said. “She’s really good at drawing fouls.”

But Ashmore is more than just a defensive specialist, she also has some offensive skills.

“She’s an excellent dribbler,” Caciari said. “She can create for others.”

Ashmore also has a “quick first step” and is “clever around the basket,” Caciari said.

Caciari said that Ashmore helped the Wolfpack become better communicators on the court. They would use signs, body language or read lips to communicate. That’s something that Ashmore is hoping to continue to work on with Team USA.

“I look forward to improve my communication with my teammates,” Ashmore wrote.

Caciari believes that Ashmore’s decision to attend Gallaudet, which focuses on deaf and hard of hearing students, was a good decision.

“Her going away for a year helped develop her even more,” Caciari said.

Even playing on the bigger stage at the world championships, Caciari isn’t expecting there to be any hesitancy from Ashmore because he said that she can pick up on things easily.

Ashmore will go to Boston to meet up with the rest of Team USA before flying to Turkey.

Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow him on Twitter:

@FDNMSportsGuy

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