An awkward step off the curb influenced Tia Presley’s way of seeing things.
Almost one year ago, Presley took a false step and broke her left ankle while on a routine trip to get a snack.
Presley knew immediately that her ankle was severely damaged. She soon learned that her freshman season with Washington State’s basketball team was over.
A curious thing happened the rest of the season, when the Gonzaga Prep graduate watched her teammates play Pac-12 Conference games from the bench. Seeing the games from a different angle, Presley started to understand much of the advice and strategy that her coaches had imparted during practices.
“It was an eye-opener for me,” the Cougars’ sophomore point guard said. “I got a chance to see things in a different way. Certain things the coaches had said made more sense.”
Presley’s first goal this season was to not play hesitantly on her healed ankle. After that, she wanted to play more aggressively, pressure the ball more on defense and look to score when possible.
Presley leads the Cougars in assists per game (3.6), ranks second in scoring (11.4) and is third in rebounding (4.2).
“This year has been a good challenge,” Presley said. “I don’t want to force too many shots, but I realized I might have to score more.”
The offensive part comes naturally because Presley is the all-time scoring leader in Greater Spokane League games with 1,469 points.
The Cougars (3-7), who play at Gonzaga on Saturday, picked up road losses at Louisville and Syracuse last week. WSU has defeated Ohio State and BYU this season, so the Cougars have the talent to knock off tough opponents.
“I think we’re trying to find what consistently works for us,” Presley said.
A three-day gap between the Louisville and Syracuse games allowed the Cougars to visit famous Big Apple sites, including Times Square and Ground Zero.
Presley already knew New York City because her family is from the area. She remained behind when the team departed for Washington and stayed at her mother Amanda Aronson’s new house in New Jersey.
—- Cassandra (Cassie) Thompson (Timberlake High) leads the University of Portland in field-goal percentage (.526) and is second in scoring (9.9) and rebounding (6.9) per game. The 6-foot-2 sophomore forward, who is majoring in biology, was Idaho’s 3A player of the year as a senior. Portland (5-7) has won four consecutive games. … Senior forward Jeneva Anderson leads the Washington Huskies in minutes off the bench (13 per game). Anderson was the leading scorer as a junior when Lewis and Clark won the 2008 State 4A title with a 29-0 record.