Each year in Alaska, hundreds of women’s high school basketball players take to the court all across the state. In the Anchorage bowl alone, roughly 100 girls will suit up for a local squad. Of the eight high schools that compete in Alaska’s Cook Inlet Conference, Dimond High School in particular has a knack for sending its players on to the collegiate level.
This season, the UAA women’s basketball teams boasts four Dimond alumni on the roster: freshman Tara Thompson and Rohyn Huss, sophomore Sierra Afoa, and senior Keiahnna Engel. All four women played for the maroon and gold at various times over the past eight years. In that span of time, the Lady Lynx earned state tournament berths every year, and finished runner-up in 2013 before winning it all last spring.
“[Dimond coach] Jim Young has done an excellent job preparing his young ladies for the college game and elevating his program to an elite level in Alaska,” Seawolves coach Ryan McCarthy said in a May press release.
Every year, Young takes his teams to out-of-state tournaments, allowing his players to see first hand the skill of the game in other parts of the country.
“Coach Jim Young at Dimond High School holds our varsity program to a high standard,” Huss said. “He knows what it takes to be a college athlete.”
Thompson adds that it helps he has a few college coaches in his contact list that he talks to from time to time.
“He knows a lot of college coaches so that also kind of helps in the process in getting your name out there,” Thompson said.
Thanks in part to Young, Thompson and Afoa can continue to play basketball on the same team, prolonging the time they have played with each other.
“Me and Sierra have played with each other ever since we were like in third or fourth grade,” Thompson said. “[We] have just built that chemistry all the way up until now.”
Basketball has served as a catalyst for the friendship between all four.
“Not a lot has changed between us, we’re all super close, it’s just a faster pace game,” Afoa said.