Thursday, February 25, 2016

Well-Read Recruit Nadia Fingall Prepares For Next Chapter

Walter Villa,, February 25, 2016

Nadia Fingall will be donning a McDonald's uniform before settling into her Stanford jersey.

Nadia Fingall was 9 when she was awarded her first basketball uniform, a red and blue jersey with shorts to match. She accessorized with a black and white headband.

"I was decked out to the max," Fingall said. "The first day I got it, I stood in front of the mirror for 30 minutes, dancing around. I was elated."

That's exactly how coaches feel these days when they know Fingall will wear their uniforms.

That goes for the coaches at Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach, Florida), where Fingall, 17, finished her high school career at the state Final Four last weekend, leading the Indians to an 83-11 record in her three years.

And that's also true at Stanford, where Fingall, a 6-foot-3 forward, will play her college ball.
Fingall, the No. 26 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100,  had 21 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and three steals in a 62-51 Class 6A state semifinal loss to Fort Myers last Friday in her final high school game.

A voracious reader with an extensive vocabulary, Fingall analyzed the defeat in her typical astute fashion.

"We had too many turnovers," Fingall said. "We were handling the pressure effectively at the start. But we succumbed to their pressure late in the game."

Indeed, Fort Myers, the eventual state champion, outscored the Indians 20-6 to close the game.
But the loss doesn't take away from Fingall's excellent season, during which she averaged 18.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

"She's the full package," Indians coach Don Brown said. "She's all business on and off the court. There are times she stays up to 3 or 4 in the morning doing homework. She's going to be a great leader for Stanford."

Taught by dad

Fingall is the oldest of five siblings. Her parents are Andrew, who was born in Grenada, and Sydonne, who is from Jamaica.

Andrew, a captain in the U.S. Air Force who has been deployed to Afghanistan twice within the past few years, taught his daughter the finer points of basketball.

It wasn't an easy undertaking at first.

"I wasn't the most athletic kid," Fingall said. "I was awful. I was so bad -- you don't understand."
Fingall admits her first motivation with basketball was social. Making friends was important to the daughter of a military man who moved the family a good bit as he got assigned to different posts.

After a while, though, Fingall wanted more out of basketball than just hanging out with her buddies, and she joined the Cal Storm travel team at age 11.

When Andrew, who stands 6-feet-7 and played forward at George Mason before a two-year pro career in China and Luxembourg, saw she was serious about the sport, he jumped in, too. Juggling his busy schedule with the Air Force, Andrew started what soon became a tradition with his daughter: 5 a.m. basketball workouts at whatever gym they could find.

"5 a.m. was a magical time for us," Andrew said of the father-daughter bonding. "Later in the day was hectic. But that was our little block of time."

Nadia said the early wake-up calls were difficult.

"Even if I didn't want to go, I knew it would make me better," she said. "Those 5 a.m. workouts are what helped me the most in my career -- just having that routine and bringing my weaknesses to the table."

When the Fingalls moved from California to Florida, Nadia, who was entering ninth grade at the time, joined the Florida Essence club team.

Essence coach Kim Davis, who had been alerted to Fingall by George Quintero of the Cal Storm, was taken by the freshman's try-harder attitude.

"I saw a young lady with a craving to get better," Davis said. "She never thought she was any good, and she still works like she's the underdog. That's a good thing."

"She never thought she was any good, and she still works like she's the underdog. That's a good thing." Kim Davis on Nadia Fingall

Recruiting battle

Given her size, skills and 4.58 GPA, Fingall was a popular recruiting target before narrowing her list to Stanford, Florida, Penn State, Oklahoma and Florida State.

Harvard, Vanderbilt and Tennessee also called last summer, but by that time, Fingall had lined up her visits to those five finalists.

Davis said she was with Fingall this past September at a showcase in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the story goes, there were about 150 college coaches and 250 high school prospects at the showcase, and many of the observers came away in awe of Fingall.

"In between sessions, Nadia was studying her physics book," Davis said. "A couple of coaches told me Nadia was their favorite player for that reason alone.

"Nadia is always stressing about a test. Then she gets an 'A' on her exam."

One month after the showcase, Fingall committed to Stanford.

The stellar Cardinal class includes 5-8 guard Anna Wilson from Bellevue, Washington; 6-0 guard DiJonai Carrington from Horizon (San Diego, California) and 5-10 guard Mikaela Brewer from Barrie, Ontario (Canada). Wilson, whose brother Russell is the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, and Carrington, the daughter of a former NFL defensive back, will team with Fingall on the West squad at the March 30 McDonald's All American Game in Chicago.

"When we found out we would be playing together, we were stoked," Fingall said of the McDonald's game. "It will be great to play together before we are officially teammates.

"Anna is a cerebral point guard who is a confident leader and an amazing passer. DiJonai is a big guard who rebounds well and has good range and accuracy. Mikaela is long, quick and athletic -- she can shoot the 3 and attack the basket.

"I think I fit in as an anchor in the post. I am working on my perimeter game to be as versatile as possible."

Stanford is known for its academic excellence, but Fingall figures to handle the rigors of the school just fine.

"Academics is my first love," said Fingall, who is interested in studying anthropology. "Aside from what we have to do for school, I try to read two or three books a month on my own."

One summer, Fingall read the entire "Hunger Games" trilogy in less than 48 hours.

"A book leaves more to the imagination than a movie," Fingall said. "It draws you in more."
As a lover of books, Fingall knows the final chapter of her high school career has now been written, and her tears "really flowed" in the locker room after her final game.

"I was disappointed we lost," Fingall said. "But I don't think I could be disappointed with the season we had. We didn't have a deep squad, and we had some internal dynamics that didn't go our way. But I'm at peace with it. ..."

Ready to try on that next uniform.

Anna Named to ALL-USA Western Washington Girls Basketball Team, February 25, 2016

Below are the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Western Washington Girls Basketball Teams. Please keep in mind that players were selected based on skill and ability, regardless of player position.

First Team
PG Anna Wilson, Bellevue, Sr., 5-foot-9. The Stanford commit transferred this year from Virginia and her leadership ability and calm presence quickly made her a key cog in the Wolverines’ success. Wilson’s well-balanced season stats speak for themselves: 16 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.5 steals.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Wilson comes through in the clutch for Bellevue

Bellevue Wolverines senior Anna Wilson drives to the basket against West Seattle on Feb. 18 at Bellevue College.

Shaun Scott,, February 23, 2016

Not even a bout with the flu could stop senior point guard Anna Wilson from coming through in the clutch for the Bellevue Wolverines girls basketball team against West Seattle in the 2016 Class 3A SeaKing District II tournament semifinals.

Wilson, who missed the entire second quarter after being elbowed in the face in the the closing minute of the first quarter, scored 12 of her team-high 18 points in the first eight minutes of the second half, propelling Bellevue to a 58-50 win against West Seattle on Feb. 18 at Bellevue College.

The Wolverines improved their overall record to 22-0 with the victory. Bellevue started off the game strong building a 12-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first quarter. Unfortunately for Bellevue, West Seattle went on a 17-0 run garnering a 17-12 lead with 5:37 left in the second quarter. During Bellevue’s drought on the offensive end. West Seattle led Bellevue 28-23 at halftime.

In the second half the Wolverines relied on Wilson’s wide assortment of drives to the basket and perimeter jump shot to regain control of the game. Wilson hit two three-pointers on Bellevue’s first two offensive possessions of the third period, giving her team a 29-28 lead.

“Yesterday she (Wilson) wasn’t feeling so well. She just showed a lot of courage to come back in (after injury). She is a competitor and she wanted to play,” Wolverines head coach Leah Krautter said.

“She is one of those players that no matter what the score and despite the highs and lows of the game is still going to come out and be in the right spot and play hard,” Krautter said. “She uses her length and is really smart out there. She is a very high impact player.”

It was the second time in the past three contests that Bellevue had been tested by a formidable opponent. The Wolverines have defeated the majority of its foes by a significant margin the entire season. Prior to the win against West Seattle, the Wolverines defeated the Mercer Island Islanders 65-55 in a see-saw battle on Feb. 11.

“We have a great team but there is some other good teams out there. That is what you expect in the playoffs,” Krautter said. “We know we are going to see competition and we are going to learn from that in every game.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Anna and Bellevue holds off West Seattle, will meet Blanchet in SeaKing 3A finals

Sandy Ringer,, February 18, 2016

Give Anna Wilson a nail-biter over a blowout any day.

“We want more games like this,” the senior guard said after top-ranked Bellevue High School had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat No. 6 West Seattle, 58-50, in the semifinals of the SeaKing 3A District tournament girls basketball tournament Thursday at Bellevue College. “These are the games we want to be in. We want to be in tight games and we want to win.”

The Wolverines (24-0), rated as high as No. 14 nationally, have outscored opponents by an average of 40 points and until last week had not been tested by an in-state opponent. Then came a 65-55 win over Mercer Island in the KingCo championship game, where it took a 23-12 fourth quarter to close out a 65-55 victory.

This time, Bellevue trailed 46-44 before pulling away on a 14-2 run to advance to the championship game for the third straight year. The Wolverines play No. 5 Bishop Blanchet Saturday at 8:15. The Braves (23-1) beat No. 8 Mercer Island in the second semifinal Thursday, 58-53. West Seattle (22-2) takes on MI (19-5) for third and fourth places Saturday at 1:15. All four teams were already assured of regional berths.

Wilson, who has signed with Stanford, missed the entire second quarter after getting hit in the face late in the opening period and the Wolverines clearly missed her.

After racing to a 12-0 lead, they had given up eight straight points when Wilson went down with 1:11 left in the quarter. West Seattle wound up on a 17-0 run and Bellevue went scoreless for more than seven minutes.

The Wildcats led by nine before settling for a 28-23 advantage at the half. 

Wilson, who had to pass a concussion protocol, made an immediate impact when she returned early in the third period, draining back-to-back 3-pointers. She had 18 of her 20 points in the half.

West Seattle, which features a pair of freshman guards, showed its youth in the final quarter with 10 turnovers and lost for the second time in three games after a 21-0 start.

“It was a big test and I think we battled all of the way to the end,” coach Darnell Taylor said. “Our ball-handlers are young….It was a good learning experience.”

Monday, February 15, 2016

Anna's Bellevue survives Mercer Island in KingCo title game

SHAUN SCOTT,, February 12, 2016

The Mercer Island Islanders girls basketball team nearly pulled off the upset of the century against the undefeated Bellevue Wolverines girls basketball squad in the Class 3A KingCo championship game on Feb. 11 at Newport High School in Factoria.

Mercer Island bolted out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter of play and led Bellevue 43-42 after three quarters of action. Bellevue outscored Mercer Island 23-12 in the fourth quarter en route to a comeback 65-55 win. The Wolverines improved their overall record to 22-0 with the win. Mercer Island dropped to 17-4 with the loss.

Mercer Island took a 10-0 lead after senior with 3:41 left in the first quarter. It was the first time  the Wolverines had trailed by double digits this season. Bellevue head coach Leah Krautter said it was good for her squad to experience adversity in a pressure situation.

“You never want to be down 10 but at the same time we’re going to grow from that experience. It made us work hard and it made us actually have to play under pressure. Mercer Island is a good team and they came out hard. It is tough to beat a team three times in a season,” Krautter said. “The girls fought hard. In the second half we just focused on playing together and playing as a team.”

The Wolverines' trio including Anna Wilson came up with big plays against Mercer Island. Wilson added 12 points. Despite the multitude of points scored by the Bellevue starters, Tjhe team’s bench players for turning the game around.

“We really needed the energy from our bench. That is what we vibe off of and get all of our energy from. Once that started to pick up that is when we went on our run,” 

Mercer Island head coach Gillian d’Hondt was proud of her team’s performance despite the loss against one of the top powerhouses in the nation.

“We executed what we needed to do. We left it all on the floor. I feel like we are really jelling and coming together right now,” d’hondt said. “There weren’t any dropped heads (after the game). I think they were still kind of in shock that we almost had the upset of the nation. I’m really proud of how we played tonight.”

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Anna's and Bellevue too much for Mercer Island girls in KingCo finale

Joe Livarchik,, February 7, 2016

Mercer Island was hoping to even the score with their Bellevue rivals in the 2A/3A KingCo league finale Friday night at Mercer Island High School.
The Islanders had dropped the season’s previous matchup between the two teams on Jan. 13 at Bellevue High School, but were missing a key starter for their lone league loss of the year.
Though that wasn’t the case this time around, the Bellevue Wolverines showed once again why few teams have taken them to the wire this season.
In dominating fashion, Bellevue hammered Mercer Island 73-42 Friday, wrapping up a perfect 12-0 season in 2A/3A KingCo competition. The Wolverines will enter the postseason as the top seed in the 3A KingCo tournament.
“We wanted to make sure that we brought our ‘A’ game,” Bellevue coach Leah Krautter said. “This win or loss doesn’t affect our seeding going into the playoffs, so sometimes teams tend to take that lightly. Our girls were ready, we know we have a little bit of a rivalry with Mercer Island. We just wanted to play hard. We knew they were going to bring the energy against us, which they did.”
The Wolverines (20-0, 12-0) were out in front early and never let up, creating turnovers and not allowing the Islanders (16-3, 10-2) inside the paint. Bellevue’s defense held Mercer Island to single digits in each of the game’s first two quarters. On the offensive end, the Wolverines were humming on execution. Bellevue closed the first period on a 13-2 run to lead 26-8 and used a 12-0 run at the end of the second quarter to take a 42-16 advantage at the break.
“We always pride ourselves on defense and working on our defense,”  “On offense, we kind of just like to play basketball and kind of let it flow on fast break. Our defense helps us create our offense, so normally we just focus on playing hard D and then our offense will just cover it.”
Mercer Island coach Gillian d’Hondt said she thought her team slipped out of the game mentally after staring down an early deficit against an aggressive opponent.
“Hopefully we’ll start improving on how we handle pressure, because that’s something that’s been our Achilles heel,” d’Hondt said. “The main thing is we just got to get tougher overall, mentally, physically [and] emotionally.”
Bellevue had three scorers reach double figures including Anna Wilson scoring 16 to go along with 11 assists and four steals.
Next, Mercer Island and Bellevue will begin 3A KingCo tournament competition Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Newport High School. Mercer Island will be the second seed in the 3A KingCo tournament.