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The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

January 13, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Monday’s ‘I Have A Dream’ Matchup is a reunion of sorts

I will be at Foster High School Monday for the second annual “I Have A Dream” Matchup, which features seven girls basketball games.

Here is the schedule:

Chief Sealth vs. Mount Tahoma, 9 a.m.

Hazen vs. Garfield, 10:30 a.m.

Foster vs. Port Angeles, noon

(Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute to follow)

Tahoma vs. Roosevelt, 2 p.m.

Timberline vs. Lynnwood, 3:30 p.m.

Holy Names vs. Wilson, 5 p.m.

Franklin vs. Emerald Ridge, 7 p.m.

I’m especially looking forward to the showdown between Holy Names, the defending 3A state champion currently ranked No. 8, and No. 5 Wilson. The game right before that could be interesting, too. Lynnwood is having a fine season and Timberline features one of the area’s top players in Sasha Weber.

I also am axious to see Emerald Ridge in action. The Jaguars are ranked No. 9 in Class 4A. And it will be my first look of the season at Garfield, which is always dangerous.

I will be blogging and tweeting updates and highlights throughout the day, so be sure to follow if you can’t be there.

I thought I would pass along this “press release” of sorts as well, which details a connection many of the players share through the Rotary Lady Style club program. It was put together by Lady Style coach Greg Lewis, the former University of Washington football player whose daughter plays for Franklin:

On Monday Jan. 16, many of us will be celebrating the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. It is a time to reflect on his impact on our society and how America has evolved.

At Foster High School in Tukwila there will be reflection and memories of a slightly different type. Foster is hosting the “I Have a Dream” Girls Basketball Showcase in honor of the holiday but it will also serve as a reunion of sorts of some of the top local girls basketball players.

Sahara Hill and Bianca Benevides from Foster, Janee Lewis and Patrice Tostin from Franklin, Victoria Ellerby from Chief Sealth, Nyasha Sarju and Shaunice Robinson from Garfield, Tanner Adams and Catherine Woodworth from Roosevelt, Sasha Webber and Cymone Martin (injured) from Timberline, Taylor Buie from Emerald Ridge, Nina Caldwell from Wilson, and Jasmine McCleave from Holy Names all have their teams represented in this showcase but they also all hail from the same Summer AAU team.

Each one of these seniors has spent time playing for the Rotary Lady Style basketball team over the past seven years. Most were on the team together for a significant time so this will give them an opportunity to get back together again as they all finish their high school basketball careers.

Foster athletic director J.D. Hill, Jr., who put together the second annual showcase was one of the coaches of the Lady Style program but said he did not intentionally recruit teams who had Lady Style players.

“We just happened to have a really good program that put out a lot of really good players that now play very prominent roles on some good high school teams” Hill said.

The team came together when Dave Sarju, Nyasha of Garfield’s father, began coaching them in the 5th grade. Sarju, Robinson, Lewis and Adams were all on that 5th grade team. The following year Sarju recruited Janee’s father, Greg Lewis, to take over the primary coaching duties and he brought in Hill to help (primarily to get his daughter Sahara) and they added Woodworth and Benevides right away.

By the end of that year they were a local powerhouse. The core of the group went almost 2 years without losing a single game despite playing up as much as two grade levels sometimes. They won many local and National tournaments during their run including prestigious tournaments like Best in the West, Oregon City, Fila Next Level Nationals and The Vegas Showcase among others.

“The sheer number of games this group of girls has played together and won together is sort of astounding to me,” said coach Lewis noting that a lot of top AAU programs field teams only at the high school level but the Style programs start kids as 4th graders. “Some of these young ladies came after that initial 5th grade year and a few left before last Summers final run but the core of that team stayed together for years and has had a lasting impact on local girls basketball in the state of Washington and beyond. I am sure at some point amidst the games and competition on Jan. 16 they will get together and share some laughs and hugs, a Lady Style sisterhood that will always tie them together.”

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