Cook Inlet Academy's Alyse Bell moves the ball during a game last week.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
In the Cook Inlet Academy girls high school basketball team's game against Ninilchik Tuesday, Alyse Bell scored 13 points from her point guard position as her Eagles nearly picked off the the defending state champion Wolverines.
Not bad for someone who didn't even like the sport the first time she picked up a basketball.
"At first, I actually hated basketball. I was really short, and I couldn't make it up to the hoop," said Bell of her first basketball experience in fifth grade.
But Bell, now a senior at Cook Inlet, stayed with the sport and, along with developing into a team leader, has also developed a love for the game.
"I love it. It's a fun sport to play and to watch. It's my favorite sport," Bell said. "I just started playing more at recess. Pretty soon, I could get it there. I got a little stronger."
Bell still isn't going to intimidate anyone with her height at 5-foot-4, she's one of the smallest players on the CIA roster but she's more than capable of getting the ball up to the hoop, even from 3-point range, and she's been able to develop enough quickness to more than make up for what she lacks in height.
"Speed," Bell answered when asked about her strengths on the court. "That helps me a lot. I can get around people on the drive quick which helps ... I'm not blessed with height."
Bell said basketball has become a family passion her father, Greg, is the Cook Inlet girls coach, and her younger brother Eric, an eighth-grader at CIA, has taken up the sport. Even Bell's mother, Kim, has gotten in on the action.
"In the garage, we have a hoop. The whole family gets into that," Bell said.
Bell said she's enjoyed having her father be her coach through her high school career.
"I think it goes pretty smoothly. It's kind of nice to be able to always have a coach there and be able to talk after we get home after games," said Bell.
Bell even got a taste of what her father goes through as he paces the sideline when she and Brian Beeson coached the school's junior high squad this season.
"I loved it. It was a lot of fun to be in that other position," said Bell. "I have a lot more respect for coaching. It's not easy to get players to do what you want them to do.
"It's not always the coach's fault. Sometimes, it's the players. It helped me to see how coaches feel sometimes."
Greg Bell said the father-daughter and coach-player relationships he has with Alyse have blended together as basketball and being part of the community at the Christian school has become a big part of the family's lifestyle.
"I pushed her hard the first couple of years, but I've backed off she's earned it," said coach Bell. "There's been times I wished she would have worked a little harder on things, but all in all, she's put a lot into basketball."
Bell is a member of the National Honor Society, and is part of the big sister-little sister mentoring program at Cook Inlet, where she's taken a younger student under her wing.
Bell said her competitive nature carries over into the classroom, where she earns high marks.
"I've always been real competitive in anything I do, and with grades, my class is a really high-achieving class. That pushes me to want to do better. It hasn't come easy, I've had to work for my grades, but I've pretty much always had A's," said Bell.
Bell said she's enjoyed the graphic design aspects of working on the school yearbook and is thinking about pursuing graphic design in college next year. While she hasn't made up her mind on a school just yet, she said she's considering the University of Texas at Tyler.
But before leaving Cook Inlet, Bell said she'd like to see her team advance to the state tournament. The Eagles seem to always finish third in the toughest Class 2A conference in the state, and only the top two teams win a trip to the show.
"I don't think the CIA girls have ever gone to state maybe 20 years ago but it would be nice to make it," said Bell. "I think we're capable this year.
"We'll have to work hard, but it's a possibility."
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