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Girls Basketball: All-Star Game is Girlhood Dream for Local Ballers

By Eric Trent / etrent@chronline.com

LONGVIEW – Centralia senior Carissa Kaut remembers watching the senior high school basketball all-star game at Centralia College as a kid. She never imagined she’d actually be playing in two of them someday.

Kaut, a 6-foot forward who averaged 12.3 points and nine rebounds per game this season for the Tigers, was invited to play not only in the Centralia College all-star game this Friday, but also the Lower Columbia College all-star contest Tuesday night in Longview.

Kaut and her White Squad team lost 94-55 to the Red Squad in an all-star showcase made up of seven Lewis County girls and players from as far away as Warrenton, Oregon. The experience was more important than the final score, Kaut said.

“I’ve grown up going to the (Centralia College) all-star games since I was a little girl,” Kaut said. “Now that I’m a senior and actually getting to play in these games, it’s really a cool experience. It’s something I’ve always worked for and to see it pay off is pretty cool.”

Kaut scored five points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists for the White Squad, which was led offensively by Scappoose’s Gaby Daugue’s 23 points.

Also playing from Lewis County from the White Squad were Mossyrock’s Andee Nelson and Faith Mulligan, and the team was coached by Mossyrock coach Autumn Moorcroft.

The Red Squad was led by MVP Nicole Lindblom of Capital with a game-high 25 points. Also on the Red Squad was Toledo’s Kal Schaplow, the Central 2B League MVP, who scored 21 points. W.F. West’s Annika Waring and Maggie Vadala each scored five points, while Payton Aselton added two points.

With players from classifications all the way from Class 2B to Class 3A, it was an eye-opening experience for some of the smaller school players, Nelson said.

“It’s a little weird because it’s hard to play your best and I was so nervous,” Nelson said. “Everyone’s good here. Getting to know them was fun, to see their different personalities. You can definitely tell who plays more basketball and who doesn’t, me being one of the ones who doesn’t play a lot of basketball.”

For Kaut, it was a new experience playing against girls she’s played against, seen at games or known since she was a kid but never was able to play with.

“It’s fun because I’ve grown up knowing who they are,” Kaut said. “And seeing all the local talent we have, it’s just fun to play against girls that are so good. It’s fun to play with girls I’ve never actually played with.”

As expected at an all-star game, it was all offense and little defense. Before long it turned into a track meet with both teams racing downcourt and whoever ended up with a loose ball first got to hoist a 3-pointer. The Red Squad led from start to finish.

“All-star games you can’t really expect good defense because everyone wants to score,” Nelson said.

There were no set offenses, no game-plan, just everyone doing their own thing and showing off their skills, Nelson said. The two teams didn’t practice once together. The only time on the court they had before the game was the 20-minute warmup. The players showed up, met in the locker room and began introducing themselves.

“Everyone didn’t know what they were doing and it was all over the place,” Nelson said. “A little crazy.”

Nelson, like Kaut, remembers coming to the Centralia College all-star game in junior high and as a freshman and sophomore to cheer on her upperclassmen teammates from Mossyrock that were competing. When she got the text from Moorcroft inviting her to the LCC game, it was unexpected.

“I didn’t get my hopes up but I was like, ‘That’d be so cool if I did it,’” Nelson said.

For most players, it’s one last chance to showcase their skills and impress college recruiters. For Kaut, she’s hoping Tuesday’s game opened up her options even further. She’ll get one last chance on Friday at Centralia College to show what she’s got to potential colleges.

“I’m still considering my options and figuring out where I’ll be playing at,” Kaut said. “I’m hoping to decide pretty soon where I’ll be heading to.”

Kaut, Vadala, Waring, Schaplow, Nelson and Aselton will all finish out their high school careers at the Centralia College all-star game at 6 p.m. on Friday.

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