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Arlington girls win big to close AAU season
While the eighth-grade Arlington boys have proven their muster over four years of AAU play, the girls aren't about to be overlooked.
After a winter season in which the boys AAU program won their fourth tournament championship in as many years, the girls AAU program has perhaps topped their accomplishment by winning brackets throughout Oregon and western Washington en route to a 54-14 season record.
The most recent feather in their cap is a victory in the End of the Oregon Trail Tournament June 20-22 in Oregon City. The girls played up, winning the jayvee/freshman division's tournament from a field of 18 teams, with Megan Abdo earning tournament MVP honors.
Seven other girls play on the team as well, and coach Mike Hawthorne calls them all his MVPs Lexi Sarver, Stefanie Schmuck, Jensen Evans, Cathy VanLoo, Lauren Grogan, Kaiti Ferro and Josie Foster. The girls have won the SWISH LEAGUE in Mount Vernon, Seattle's Jerry Jones League, Bellingham Tournament and Arlington Hoop Jam Tournament, according to their coach. More remarkably perhaps, they've won all these honors with a team of players drawn just from their hometown. Many of the teams they have played are select teams, cherry picking the best players from around the region.
The point in assembling an all-Arlington team is to get the girls ready to play Arlington basketball. And Hawthorne believes they're capable of making a contribution this winter, as freshmen.
"I think they have the ability and the talent to make an impact, for sure," he said, with plenty of respect for the seasoned crew returning to the court for Arlington as the school returns to class 4A competition. "It will kind of depend on where they fit in, how much they'll be able to contribute. These girls can compete, every one of them."
Hawthorne helped assemble the team when they were still sixth graders, teaching a modified version of the offense used by Arlington coach Nathan Davis. While Hawthorne left the door open to getting the team back together again for another season, he's prepared to leave the team he's nurtured for three years to the guidance of Davis and the high school staff.
"I have been the girls AAU coordinator for three years now and this has to be one of the best teams I have seen in Arlington in a long time," he added.