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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Heritage’s Katie Peneueta signs to play basketball with Sacramento State

Standout finds new college home quickly after hopes of going to Air Force didn't work out

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: June 4, 2021, 4:04pm
2 Photos
Heritage senior Katie Peneueta weaves toward the basket Thursday, May 20, 2021, during the Timberwolves’ 53-42 win against the Falcons at Heritage High School in Vancouver.
Heritage senior Katie Peneueta weaves toward the basket Thursday, May 20, 2021, during the Timberwolves’ 53-42 win against the Falcons at Heritage High School in Vancouver. (Taylor Balkom/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

If there is one thing Katie Peneueta has learned in a decade of playing basketball, it’s how to pivot.

So when the her dream of going to the Air Force Academy was ended about a month ago by a medical disqualification late in the rigorous application process, the Heritage High basketball star found a new place to chase her dreams.

Peneueta signed a letter of intent to play basketball with Sacramento State on Friday in a brief ceremony in front of family and friends at Heritage High.

“I do have to admit it hit me pretty hard,” Peneueta said of not being admitted to Air Force. “But I knew immediately I had a couple of very supportive coaches around me. … I reached out to them. My dad reached to them. And immediately they started working as hard as they could to get my name back out there in the recruiting process.”

Very quickly, Peneueta began receiving offers from Division I programs and started visiting campuses. Sacramento State was her first stop.

“It felt really, really good,” Peneueta said.

In April, Sacramento State hired Oregon women’s assistant coach Mark Campbell as the Hornets’ new coach, and it was Campbell who won over Peneueta.

“He considers (Oregon great) Sabrina Ionescu like his daughter, and I know how successful she’s been,” Peneueta said. “He’s been coaching successful girls for years, and I’d love to be part of a program that he’s building.”

A three-sport star who also shined in volleyball and track and field, Peneueta averaged 18 points a game this season for the Timberwolves, leading Heritage to a 10-6 record and third-place in the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League – best among 3A teams. This after three losing seasons in Peneueta’s first three years in the program.

“Hey, it only took four years,” Peneueta said. “But I’ve told the girls over and over about how proud I am of them this season. We made history this year.”

Peneueta plans to study criminal justice at Sacramento State.

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