Lake City High girls basketball coach Dave Stockwell won’t let his assistant coach Jim Asher play in practice anymore.
The 6-foot-7 Asher can’t roam the lane blocking shots like he used to when he played professionally, because he was beginning to damage the confidence of a developing post player that has become one of the key pieces to a possible state championship team.
That player is Asher’s daughter, Alison.
“We used to scrimmage against the girls and he would check her shots, which made her play smaller than she is,” Stockwell said. “We don’t want her to play small because she is the tallest kid in the league.”
Jim offers a sort of “survival of the fittest” explanation.
“The fire starts to burn and instinct takes over when I’m playing,” said Jim, a former player for the San Antonio Spurs of the ABA. “It’s not fair for her if I don’t play hard, but she’s more confident now playing against her teammates and knowing that she won’t get her shot blocked.”
That confidence is well-founded since there are few players that can block the 6-foot-4 junior. Alison has used her height to record 143 blocks in 23 games this year. More importantly, though, may be the amount of work that she has put into herself and her game to become a complete player.
Asher has become a fixture in the weight room under the tutelage of LC football coach Van Troxel.
“In the four semesters she’s been in the weight-lifting class I’ve seen a tremendous amount of improvement in her strength,” Troxel said. “By next year she should develop into an explosive jumper as well.”
As important as the physical conditioning she has done, Asher also played on national teams last summer. She was able to test her ability against some of the finest high school players in the country.
Because of that exposure, colleges have been writing with regularity. Jim said that dozens of letters arrive each week from schools throughout the nation.
With a full year to prepare college plans, Alison is only focusing on what the No. 1-ranked T-Wolves will have to do at state, which begins next Thursday in Nampa.
“We know we’re good, but sometimes we’re off so we have to be consistently good,” Alison said.
LC will go into the state tournament prepared after winning the Region I Tournament and defeating four of the Boise area schools earlier in the year. Stockwell said that something important he learned from working with former Coeur d’Alene High and LC coach Dave Fealko is that it’s not who does well at first, but who does well at the end.
Two weeks ago that would not have bode well for the T-Wolves, who suffered their only IEL loss to Lewiston. However, Stockwell feels his team is playing well enough now to have a chance at state.
“Every year that I’ve coached, which has been 11 years now, I’ve been with teams that made it to the state tournament,” Stockwell said. “That is the thing good programs are built on. Kids want to play where they can win a state championship.”
A state championship would also solidify Jim Asher’s belief that he made the right decision to move to Coeur d’Alene with his family from St. Maries. He still drives every day to work as a teacher at the high school in St. Maries. Alison’s older sister, Missy, graduated from LC last year and is now at Boise State on a full-ride golf scholarship after playing both sports in high school.
“It’s a very, very good time to be a female athlete,” Jim said. “With all the new pro leagues forming for female basketball players there are a lot of opportunities she will have in life.”
Opportunities that weren’t available just one generation ago. Alison’s mom, Teri, has watched her girls play basketball for the last decade, and adding in the girls games she has watched Jim coach, it wasn’t rare for her to catch five or six games a weekend. However, she never played the game herself because of a lack of opportunity growing up.
“I was never a player, but I always enjoyed the game as a spectator,” Teri said. “I’ll miss watching the girls play when Alison is done, but I’ll definitely still come watch the games when she’s gone.”
Fortunately, she doesn’t have to mediate battles about basketball at home as Jim and Alison do their best to keep the game on the court.
“They’re very cautious to leave things on the court,” Teri said. “They have good chemistry so there aren’t many battles at home. Everything works out really well.”
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