All-Region girls basketball: Aubrey Ward-El revels in Skyview's return to state

Senior's favorite memory of senior year is Storm's return to Tacoma Dome

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter



Aubrey Ward-El has a lot of great memories from her final year in high school basketball.

Coaches voted her the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League's MVP. She helped Skyview to league and district titles. And the Storm made it to the state tournament in Tacoma.

There was senior night.

All-Region girls basketball team


Aubrey Ward-El, sr., Skyview

Post play. Guard play. She did it all for sixth-best 4A team in the state. Class 4A Greater St. Helens League player of the year. Signed to play for University of San Diego.

Rest of All-Region first team

JOCELYN ADAMS, SR., SKYVIEW: Returned from knee injury to dominate the paint for the Storm. First-team all-4A GSHL selection. Signed to play at Weber State.

NIKKI CORBETT, JR., CAMAS: Introducing, the 2013-14 All-Region scoring leader, averaging more than 18 points a game for the Papermakers.

NICOLE GOECKE, SR. PRAIRIE: Finished her career with 12 consecutive games scoring double digits. Class 3A GSHL player of the year.

STEPHANIE MCDONAGH, SR., SKYVIEW: A 3-point threat, a scorer, oh, and best defensive player on the team. A first-team all-4A GSHL selection.

All-Region honorable mention

TUILEISU ANDERSON, SR., UNION: Colorado State-Pueblo signee instrumental in keeping injury-plagued Titans in contention.

JOSSILYN BLACKMAN, JR., BATTLE GROUND: First-team all-4A GSHL selection averaged about 14 points a game.

ALYSSA BLANKENSHIP, SO., WASHOUGAL: Helped Panthers to a win in competitive district tournament.

SHANNON BOYLE, SR., RIDGEFIELD: Averaged better than 18 points per game for the Spudders.

PARIS COLLINS, SR., HUDSON’S BAY: Senior was one of the top scorers in the region, averaging better than 17 points a game.

CHERITA DAUGHERTY, SO., PRAIRIE: Sophomore point guard made a name for herself this season.

KATIE WHITTEN, JR., LA CENTER: Scoring machine was co-MVP in the Trico League. Averaged 17.4 points a game.

There was that non-league tournament in December.

The Storm also went 25-4, finishing sixth in the state.

A lot of good things, yes?

Interestingly, Ward-El said her favorite game just happened to result in a loss.

"Playing in the dome again, there's nothing like it," Ward-El said. "We played together to get there. And we lost together as a team."

Two years ago, Ward-El was one of the three sophomores who were instrumental in Skyview's state title. Last year, the Storm failed to make it back to the dome. Now as seniors, Ward-El, Stephanie McDonagh, and Jocelyn Adams made sure the Storm returned to Tacoma.

"Just to get back there, we had accomplished a lot," Ward-El said. "It was fun soaking in that experience. We wanted to give the younger players what we were given as sophomores."

The Storm lost that first game in the dome to eventual state champion Gonzaga Prep. Skyview responded the next day with a victory to make it to a trophy game.

Ward-El, who played down low for most of this season and also is a guard, did a little bit of everything for the Storm. She could lead the team in scoring or rebounds. Assists, too. For her do-it-all performance, she is The Columbian's All-Region girls basketball player of the year.

The unofficial start to the season was at a team campfire, when the players shared all that they would give up for this season for the basketball team. Sugar. Fast food. Soft drinks. Etc. Ward-El recalls looking at all of her teammates and feeling a rush.

"I got this weird feeling it was going to be a really, really good year," Ward-El said. "The energy was there. The talent was there."

Then the Storm performed, missing out on a perfect regular season with a two-point loss to St. Mary's of Portland in December.

Their success led to that final trip to Tacoma.

"I'm sad it's over. It hit all of us in that locker room," Ward-El said. "Coach (Jennifer Buscher) said, 'I guess we don't have practice on Monday.' I was thinking, 'Wow, it's over.'"

Her high school career was over, but she still has college basketball. Ward-El has signed to play at the University of San Diego.

"I'm convinced there is not a better place to go to school," she said.

Interestingly, the 2013 Columbian player of the year, Prairie graduate Cori Woodward, now plays for San Diego.

"I look up to her a lot," Ward-El said. "I'm so excited to know someone."

New memories will be made in college.

But for now, Ward-El and the Storm are still celebrating their final basketball season together.