ARLINGTON — When Allison DeBerry was looking for a college basketball team to join, it was her basketball trainer, Kyra Pause, who pointed her to Centralia College.
DeBerry, a 2020 Arlington grad, had spent the past three years on varsity for the Eagles, helping them capture the district title in February and eventually placing third at the Class 3A state tournament, the team’s first state trophy since 2016. Now she just needed a landing spot for college.
“Kyra said they looked like a good program and that I should reach out to them,” DeBerry said.
So the 5-foot-2 guard emailed Centralia College women’s basketball coach Caleb Sells, which started a back-and-forth email exchange, eventually turning into a scholarship offer.
DeBerry, who has never been to Centralia, was talking to one other junior college in California at the time but decided to stay in-state.
“They seemed like a better and more competitive program,” DeBerry said. “That definitely was important for me. I wanted to play for a program that would be competitive.”
She committed right after state in March, then soon signed her National Letter of Intent. The Blazers lose seven on their eight players from last season, so Sells has spent this offseason recruiting players who fit his system and those who know how to win.
“Allison is a competitor and a leader who comes to us from one of the best programs in the state,” Sells said. “The first time assistant coach Katie Hankins and I saw her play, we knew we needed this kid.”
It’s also a good fit for DeBerry, too, who was searching for a school where she could find a quality education, and also wanted to be somewhat close to home so her family could come watch her games. Centralia is about a three-hour drive from Arlington.
Still, she never imagined she’d be in this position one day.
“When I was younger it was, like, a dream,” DeBerry said. “When I was in middle school I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do that.’ But once I got into high school and it started getting serious, then I started thinking about it and realized I could do that and I want to do that.”
DeBerry, who has been playing since she was in third grade, joined a travel team once she entered high school. West Coast Hoops, an AAU Snohomish County team, is run by Prause. She even gave up playing softball her freshman year to focus solely on basketball.
“I just love it,” DeBerry said. “I love being competitive and how fast-paced it is.”
DeBerry appeared in all 27 games for the Eagles this season and scored 119 points, including an 11-point effort off the bench during the Eagles’ state-berth-clinching victory over Ferndale. But what she’s known for is her dogged defensive effort, and that’s what caught Sells’ attention.
“Allison is going to give us a boost on both ends of the floor,” Sells said. “ Her, along with other recruits we have coming in, definitely allow us to pressure teams like we want to. Allison is constant energy. She’s all over the floor. She can shoot the 3 and finish around the rim exceptionally well for a shorter player.”
The Blazers had the top defense in the 34-team Northwest Athletic Conference, allowing 52.1 points per game, including just 42.8 in league play. They also led the league in forced turnovers per game (24.6). The Blazers suffocating full-court defense played a large part in that. It’s the exact same strategy DeBerry and the Eagles used at Arlington, deploying a full-court attack all year.
“(Sells) talked about how I would be able to put on a lot of pressure and do full-court defense — and I liked hearing that,” DeBerry said.
DeBerry is looking forward to joining a Blazers team that won the West Region with a 21-7 record, including an undefeated league record (14-0), and ended the season on a 14-game win streak. They earned a No. 1 seed for the eventually-canceled NWAC tournament.
“Being able to play with a new team and new coach on a whole different level of basketball,” DeBerry said. “Just moving on to the next level. I’m excited to start on a new team.”