Prep Basketball: Schaplow Fills it Up at All-State Game
TEAM WORK: Toledo Takes Timeout from Camp to Support Their Star Player
By Jordan Nailon
SPOKANE — Last Saturday, Kal Schaplow took a brief break from team camp at Gonzaga University in order to take care of some personal business. Specifically, the do-it-all forward from Toledo needed a few hours away so that she could participate in the Washington-North Idaho All-State Game at the Sports Hub in Spokane.
As per usual, Schaplow made the most of her time by posting a game-high 19 points as the West came up just short in an 84-80 loss to a talented East squad. Schaplow added three rebounds, two blocks, and an assist to her tally in the highly competitive game but afterward it wasn’t her stat line that she wanted to talk about first. Instead, she extolled the virtues of her teammates, both new and old.
Schaplow noted that the timing of the All-State game happened to coincide with the Toledo girls basketball team’s trip to Spokane to take part in a team camp at Gonzaga. That serendipitous alignment of schedules made it possible for the rest of the Toledo team to take a timeout from fastbreaks and box outs in order to attend the All-State game and watch their star player work from a different perspective. According to Schaplow, the presence of her teammates in the stands was a primary motivating factor for her as she squared off with some of the best 1B and 2B hoopers.
“The main thing is just how much it meant to me to have all my Toledo girls cheering on the sidelines. It made me feel like I was at home and I was comfortable,” Schaplow explained. “I probably had the biggest cheering section there just because all my girls were there.”
Madison Dixon of the East team took home MVP honors with a stat line of 15 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one block. The consensus from observers over in the Inland Empire was that if the West had been able to pull out a victory, those Most Valuable Player honors would have belonged to the pride of Toledo.
“She played really well. I think if her team would have won she probably would have won the MVP,” insisted Toledo girls basketball coach Brian Layton, who watched the contest alongside his tribe of players. “Her game allows her to play inside and outside and she competes really well. When the competition gets better she seems to step up her game. She was attacking the hoop. She was hitting her shot. She really stood out.”
Layton added that the game was a true seesaw affair that lacked any of the laissez faire defense that plagues most exhibition affairs.
“Both teams were getting after it. They were getting down low on defense and playing to win. It wasn’t your typical all-star game,” Layton said.
Aside from her personal cheering section, another factor on Schaplow’s side was the fact that it was not her first time playing in the top tier contest. She first played in the Washington-N. Idaho All-State game following her sophomore season. To hear Schaplow tell it, she wasn’t too torn up about the exhibition loss or her lack of hardware. Rather, she was simply happy to have cobbled together a complete performance while helping the West team erase the memory of a lopsided loss in 2018.
“I remember last year I didn’t play very well and driving home I said, ‘If I get the opportunity to do that again I will not let that happen,’” noted Schaplow. “It was really fun to be able to play with this group because you have a lot of leaders from a bunch of different teams. So even though we’d never played together before we were all talking on the court and the bench was loud. It was really amazing how much good team stuff we had going.”
Schaplow said that her resume of roundball experience helped her come into the game with a perspective that set her up for success.
“After playing so many games you just kind of loosen up and it all becomes kind of fun,” Schaplow said. “It kind of surprised me just because of how much I struggled last year. So going into this game, I just made it a goal of mine to make a difference for my team, no matter how I did it, even though I’d never played with them before.”
Schaplow said one of the major differences between this year’s West side team and last year’s incarnation was their ability to come together as a unit in a short matter of time.
“I had a layup and an and-one and I remember turning around really excited and giving a big high five to one of my teammates and even though we’d never played together we all just came together right away,” Schaplow pointed out. “It’s cool how quickly you can become comfortable with girls you’ve never even met because basketball just brings us together.”
As she prepares for her senior campaign at Toledo, Schaplow says she’d love to earn the opportunity to compete in the game once more next summer. For now though, she’s switching her focus back to helping Toledo attain their team goals on the hardwood. She noted that this summer, the Toledo girls have been road warriors on a quest to lay the foundation for a run to the state tournament next season.
“We had a tough end to our season this year and I know that really motivated the girls a lot,” Schaplow said on Tuesday in between sessions in Ellensburg at Central Washington University team camp. “I think the fact that all of the girls are taking so much time away from their families and spending their summer on the road at these basketball camps really shows you how important it is to them.”
Layton agreed with the assessment provided by his team captain. He also noted that Schaplow has been putting in plenty of work herself in order to curate her game to make her teammates as good as they can be.
“Our goal is to get better every day. That’s why we’re playing a ton of games this summer,” Layton said. “This summer, she’s been more of a facilitator than she has in the past and we’re hoping that the other girls are gaining more confidence because of it and that she’ll wind up as more of an all-around threat as a result.”
With college coaches from Eastern Washington, Whitworth, Lewis and Clark State, Portland State, and a collection of Idaho schools, among others, in attendance at the All-State game it’s highly unlikely that Schaplow’s performance went unnoticed. The senior-to-be says that she plans on taking a college tour in the fall in order to sort out her options but for now, she remains focused on becoming the best high school basketball player, and teammate, that she can be.
“I love the excitement and the team aspect of (basketball). I just love the girls that I’m playing with. And it’s such a skill sport that you can just improve so much in so many areas, and not just physically,” explained Schaplow. “It’s almost like you become a student of the game and not just an athlete.