Yosemite athlete is headed for adventure

Sometimes role models are hard to come by. Fortunately for our area kids, we have the likes of Katie Menton.

Menton is a senior at Yosemite High School and has been playing the game of basketball most of her life. And, according to her basketball coach Gary Blate has aspirations about playing professional basketball one day.

The 5-foot-9 inch Menton has already received more accolades than most players receive for their entire career. She established herself as one of the top players in the section as a sophomore and solidified her position last season, culminating in her selection as the Fresno Bee Player of the Year.

During the 2005-06 basketball season, Menton led the central section in points scored (676), three-point shots made (99) and steals (168) and was an important link in the team's success (the team's 35 victories were the most by any team in the state in 2005-06).

Last Tuesday, Menton moved a step closer to her future. She will be taking her basketball talents to Pepperdine University in Malibu, next year.

With her mother, teammates and administrators looking on, Menton penned her Letter of Intent to attend the Division I school on a full scholarship next fall.

Pepperdine, with an enrollment of 8,300 students, is one of the top and exclusive private universities in the United States. The value of the scholarship over four years is in the six-figure range.

Menton is the first Yosemite basketball player, boy or girl, to receive a Division I level scholarship.

"She had multiple offers and had moved to the top of the recruiting list for a number of college teams," Blate said. "After her official visit to Pepperdine, she was sold on the location, the facilities, the coaches and the basketball players."

The campus is near the home of her grandparents, and the schedule will allow her family to drive to many of her games.

Pepperdine is a member of the West Coast Conference which is made up of teams from Santa Clara, Saint Mary's, the University of San Francisco, Gonzaga, Loyola, and the University of San Diego.

The Pepperdine Waves women's basketball team was the WCC tournament champions in 2006 and advanced to the NCAA tournament, losing to highly regarded Oklahoma. The team is coached by Julie Rousseau who coached in the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) and was a first assistant at Stanford University.

With her ability to score from the outside, Menton figures to make an immediate contribution on the college level.

Last season, Menton made 99 three-point baskets to rank with the state leaders. "She will graduate at the top of every Yosemite girls basketball career record,' Blate said. "She has played on the varsity since her freshman season and has won a league and section championship.

"Last year, she led the team to the Southern California Regional Finals, losing to the eventual state champion, Bishop Amat.

"Katie was the rare junior selected as the Fresno Bee Player of the Year,

and she also made the CalHi D-3 all-state team."

Menton has been nominated to play in the McDonald's All-American High School game, the first step in a long process of participating in an elite event.

While many top female high school basketball players attain elite status by their height or speed, Menton is recognized for her athleticism and hard work. "She has a great jump shot and can penetrate to the basket," Blate said. "More importantly, she is quick to pass to her teammates and has averaged over a 100 assists in the three years she has played."

Menton has been able to play with some excellent players in her career at Yosemite and she maintains a good relationship with all the players who have graduated.

Participating as a top player in high school sports is very time demanding and Menton has grown as a student. Her grades have improved each year in high school and she has learned how to apply herself in the classroom as she has on the court.

Pepperdine has high standards for admission and Menton received no concessions as an athlete. Her family, the girls basketball program, Yosemite High School and the local community can be very proud of Katie Menton.

(Complete story may be found at: http://www.sierrastar.com/sports/story/13027014p-13685554c.html)



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