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Girls basketball: Astoria on the verge of greatness

By Gary Henley

The Daily Astorian

Published on November 30, 2017 8:26AM

Astoria’s Sam Hemsley is looking to have a big junior season for the Lady Fishermen.

The Daily Astorian

Astoria’s Sam Hemsley is looking to have a big junior season for the Lady Fishermen.

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The upcoming season could be a good one for the Astoria girls basketball program. And the following year is really shaping up to be something special.

Big things are on the way for the Lady Fishermen, entering Mike Jacobson’s fourth year as the Astoria coach.

“We’re going to be young, but good,” Jacobson said. “We’ve had eight to 10 kids in the weight room a couple days a week, even during fall sports. They’re buying in, and they see what’s going on. We played three freshmen quite a bit last year, and Sam (Hemsley) as a sophomore.”


“Banks will be really good,” Jacobson said, as the Braves advanced to the state championship game last year. “They’ve got five or six seniors, and (junior) Aspen Slifka is back. It will be them and probably Valley Catholic. But I think we should be right in there with Valley.”


After years of sending their middle school teams to state tournaments, things should finally start paying off at the high school level.

“Hopefully it translates over for them now, if the coach doesn’t screw it up,” Jacobson said. “We have three starters back, with Sam, Brooklynn (Hankwitz) and Hailey (O’Brien), so we’ll be pretty strong. We should be better than what we were last year.”

In addition, “we’re going to be young,” he said. Hankwitz (a 5-foot-11 post) and O’Brien are sophomores, along with 6-foot-2 Kajsa Jackson and Julia Norris.

Gracie Cummings and Hemsley are juniors, with seniors McKenzie Burnett, Taylor Feldman, Libbie Nash and McKailyn Rogers.

With Hankwitz and Jackson, Astoria will be one of the biggest teams in the Cowapa for the next few years, and “we can do some different things that we’re not used to,” Jacobson said. “We can go big if we have to, or we can go pretty fast, too.”

Hemsley will be looked to for the scoring.

“She’s been shooting the ball real well and taking on leadership,” he said. “I think she can step in and have a good season. And hopefully Brooklynn can score. She’s spent a year in the weight room.

“Sam will most likely be our leading scorer every game, but I’m hoping that we can get a pretty good average from Brooklynn — eight to 10 points a game, and hopefully between 12 and 15 from Julia and Hailey combined. As long as we can score, I think we’ll be all right.”

Sophomore Libby Whitsett could also be in the mix, along with freshmen Kelsey Fausett and Halle Helmersen providing future depth. The Lady Fishermen have 15 freshmen in the program this season.

Prediction: State playoffs this year, state tournament next for the Astoria girls.

Astoria Girls Basketball

Coach: Mike Jacobson, 4th year

2016-17: 9-16 (4-6 league)

League playoffs: Defeated Scappoose, lost to Valley Catholic.

All-league losses: Rylee DeMander, Alexis Wallace

All-league returner: Sam Hemsley, Jr.


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