January 31, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 41

Former Cardinal contributing for CCS

Amelia Cook one of Sasquatch’s best shooters and defenders coaches say

Southern Oregon University’s loss appears to be the Community Colleges of Spokane’s gain.

Photo contributed by Lisa Wagner/MLHS
Former Medical Lake Cardinal Amelia Cook (center with headband) listens to CCS head coach discuss strategy in practice.

Former Medical Lake multi-sport athlete Amelia Cook chose to be close to home, rather than attend school and play NAIA Division II basketball in faraway Ashland, Ore.

Cook, a sophomore at CCS is a regular starter for the Sasquatch who are 4-3 in Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges play following last Saturday’s 67-53 hammering at the hands of Columbia Basin College. CCS is 11-8 overall with a home game Saturday at 2 p.m. at SCC against Wenatchee Valley.

“It’s going good, we have a stronger team than last year,” Cook said. “We already won as many games as we did last year.”

A 5-foot, 7-inch guard, Cook graduated from Medical Lake in 2011 after four years of playing basketball, softball and running cross country and track for the Cardinals. As a senior she was an All-Great Northern League first-team selection and her team’s MVP.

“I could have gone to Southern Oregon and played there for four years but this is closer to home,” Cook said of her decision to play at the community college level.

It also afforded her the opportunity to play with longtime friend Kylie Tareski, who just a few weeks ago decided not to play basketball.

“It was fun to play with her, I was disappointed she quit,” Cook said. The two played together for a long time dating back to grade school and AAU.

Cook was on the CCS radar and was recruited, veteran head coach Bruce Johnson said. “We recruited her, she was on our list,” Johnson said. Cook starts, maybe not every game. “We try to put her on the other team’s quickest guard; she can defend.”

But she’s got offensive tools as well.

“When she’s shooting and she’s set she’s a pretty good shooter,” Johnson said. “When she’s set and gets her feet down she can knock it down.”

Cook will rotate from her usual position as a No. 2 guard and play a little point guard,” Johnson said. “She’s not an actual point guard.”

“When she’s shooting and hits her first couple of shots she usually gets it going,” Johnson said. When she misses the first couple, sometimes she struggles. “The last couple of games she’s struggled.”

Cook has a 37 percent field goal percentage, is 26 percent from the 3-point line and averages 8.5 points per game. She’s had a high of 25 points versus Bellevue CC. So after a slow start as a freshman Cook’s adapted well.

Cook’s got a knack knocking down the open shots “I think she’s starting to believe in herself more,” Assistant coach Rick Walter said. “Early on she wasn’t sure. “The first year was a little rough transition for me but it was a good learning experience,” she said. “I’m doing a lot better this year.” As a freshman she didn’t get to play a lot. “I was more of a come-off-the-bench player,” Cook said.

The biggest change from high school to college was the defensive pressure. “The defense is way faster, you have to work hard,” Cook said.

Cook’s adapted well, however, at least in the eyes Walter.

“Definitely this year she’s our best on-ball defender,” Walter said. “Last year she definitely wasn’t,” he said of the progress he’s seen. Cook gets duty against the quickest NWACC guards. “She’s doing a great job,” Walter said.

Cook hopes to become a personal trainer and continue her education at Eastern, which has a program where her CCS program credits will easily transfer.

But just in case she can’t combine studies and basketball at EWU, Cook said her coaches are keeping their eyes out for other opportunities.

“Assistant coach Rick (Walter) has been looking at some schools,” Cook said. “There’s a possibility, there’s been some interest from some smaller schools,” Johnson said. “I think she could play at the Whitworth level, I don’t know if she couple play D-2 (NCAA Division II).”

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheney

freepress.com.

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