Despite having to transfer schools for her senior year, sharp-shooting Ashley Wirtzberger of Gila Bend (Ariz.) has established a national record for high school girls basketball by drilling 475 three-point baskets during her outstanding four-year career.
The previous record of 471 was set by Courtney Weibel of Hononegah, Ill. from 2004-2007.
The 5-foot-5 point guard was named Arizona's Class 1A-3A Player of the Year as a junior at Yuma Catholic, but is playing her final season at another school because her father-coach, Bill Wirtzberger, was hired as principal and athletic director at Gila Bend.
"The best-kept secret is that she has an outside chance to crack the top 10 in assists," says her new coach, Dallas Luttrell. She has 824 assists (all-class state record) and 2,283 points, with a potential of nine remaining games. Last week, she also set a Class 1A state record with 21 assists in a single game.
The national assist record is 1,169. To make the top 10, she'll have to finish with at least 960.
Wirtzberger is averaging an impressive 20.1 points, 9.1 assists and 3.2 steals for the 23-2 Gila Monsters.
Ashley calls the record "pretty cool, but I'm sure it will mean a lot more in five years." She revealed that her only goal had been to win a "gold ball," the award which goes to a state-championship team, and that goal is within reach this year.
Until this year, she had played only for her father. She made her debut in Biddy Basketball at age 5 in Burbank, Wash., and that may have been the only game in her career that she did not start. Bill Wirtzberger said he purposely kept her on the bench, but when she entered the game, "She made her first shot and had eight of our 10 points.
"She could always really shoot it. She is very compact and her legs are so strong. (The record) is pretty amazing, but I'm more proud of the kind of teammate she is. She's pretty special and can fit in anywhere."
Luttrell, a sergeant in the Arizona Highway Patrol, echoes Bill Wirtzberger when he calls his new point guard "absolutely the best teammate I've ever coached. She's a better defender than I expected and I'm impressed with her maturity."
An added "bonus" is that Ashley starts in the backcourt with her sophomore sister, Alex. Ashley says she never was pushed into basketball.
"I always really liked it," she affirmed. "I never knew anything else. I grew up in the buses and on the end of the bench. When I was younger, I was more of a passer. In Washington, I didn't score much. I had to learn how to go through people."
Bill Wirtzberger admits to some "guilt" over taking Ashley 110 miles away from Yuma for her final high school year. Ashley concedes, "I was kind of sad and stressed out. Once I got here, people were really nice and helped me come out of my shell."
Ashley carries a 3.9 GPA. She does not yet have a definite college in mind, but she wants to major in physical therapy and eventually become a personal trainer with her own gym. By the end of the season, she is hopeful that a college basketball scholarship will surface and enable her to reach her lifetime goal.
Thomas passes Rick Mount
Fort Wayne Bishop Luers superstar Deshaun Thomas played three times last week and has surpassed the likes of former Purdue University All-American Rick Mount to grab the No. 3 spot in Indiana career scoring with 2,665 points.
The 6-7 senior had 41 points and 22 rebounds during a 102-92 overtime victory against Fort Wayne Northrop. The losers were led by outstanding freshman twins Brenton (6-0) and Bryson Scott (6-2), who combined for 50 points.
* Senior guards Ray McCallum and Keith Appling finished in a near-standoff during their showcase bid to be named Michigan's 2010 Mr. Basketball. McCallum scored 24 points to lead Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day to an 81-72 victory over Detroit Pershing. Appling had 22 points for Pershing. Each had seven rebounds.
* Ellington (Conn.) routed Stafford, 101-78, as 6-4 junior center Zack Graves exploded for 50 points, 19 rebounds and nine blocks.
* Jabari Brown had 33 points and 10 rebounds as Oakland (Calif.) defeated Sacramento, 88-81. The 6-4 shooting guard – who is one of the nation's top juniors – left national powerhouse Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) recently after averaging 16.4 points.
* In Rhode Island, standout football quarterback Ben Hamill, a 6-foot senior guard, poured in 47 points as South Kingstown defeated Chariho, 86-65.
* Antioch (Tenn.) standout Chris Greer blocked 19 shots during a 75-49 loss to Hunters Lane.
* In their 212th meeting, West (Aurora, Ill.) defeated city rival East, 72-66, before an estimated crowd of 7,000 at Northern Illinois University. East's super junior guard Ryan Boatright, who scored 33 points, was the major drawing card.
* Jody Demling reports in the Louisville Courier-Journal that Indiana has offered a basketball scholarship to highly promising 6-10 sophomore A.J. Hammons of Carmel (Ind.).
* In just 29 years, Santa Ana Mater Dei basketball coach Gary McKnight has tied the California record for career victories, 843, which was held by Mike Phelps of Oakland Bishop O'Dowd.
* Ed Mehlberg, who has coached both boys and girls basketball at Oakland Christian (Auburn Hills, Mich.), posted his 900th career victory in his 37th campaign.
* A 30-foot long scoreboard fell from the ceiling and crashed to the floor between two basketball games at Midwest City (Okla.), according to the Daily Oklahoman. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.
* The Florida High School Athletics Association has suspended 13 basketball players from Vernon and seven from Chipley following an investigation of a brawl on Jan. 8, according to the News Herald of Panama City.
Orange has quadruple double
Amber Orange, a 5-7 junior guard, had 12 points, 15 assists, 12 steals and 11 rebounds as Westbury Christian (Houston) rolled past St. Agnes Academy, 76-49.
* In another big Texas performance, Peyton Adamson, a 5-7 senior guard, poured in 44 points as Rockwall defeated Greenville, 72-52.
* There was a great duel in New Jersey. Christina Foggie, a 5-9 guard, scored 41 points as Lenape nipped Camden, 75-73, in overtime. Annie Payton had 40 in defeat.
* Chikilra Goodman, a 5-10 senior, had 36 points, 21 rebounds and 14 steals as Bodine (Philadelphia) defeated Parkway, 53-42.
* In New Jersey, Lisa Gedaka posted her 400th career coaching victory in her 21st year at her alma mater, Gloucester Catholic.
* Frank Ridpath recorded his 300th coaching victory at Sun Valley (Aston, Pa.).
Lopes to transfer
Christian Lopes, one of the nation's premier junior baseball players, and his brother, Tim, are expected to transfer from Valencia (Calif.) to Huntington Beach Edison this week, according to Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.
Both brothers are infielders, and Christian is projected as a Top 10 major league draft selection in 2011. Edison is loaded with underclassmen and could be ranked among the nation's elite this spring.
* Desert Ridge (Mesa, Ariz.) standout Travis Flores won the fourth annual Power Showcase Home Run Derby at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Flores belted eight home runs during the finals and 17 overall. The international competition drew 72 players, according to the Arizona Republic.
Kentucky icon retires
Newport Central Catholic football coach Bob Schneider has retired at age 72. During 44 years he won a state-record 345 games and three state championships at his alma mater.
* Miramar (Fla.) quarterback Ryan Williams has made a commitment to Memphis University, according to the Sun Sentinel. The 6-5 senior threw a record five touchdown passes in the Class 6A state championship game.
Liverpool (N.Y.) standout Zavon Watkins set a national sophomore indoor track record when he won the 1000-meter run in 2:29.30 during the Molloy Stanner Games at The Armory in New York City.
* Greg Jewett notched his 200th victory as girls volleyball coach at Christian Brothers Academy (Syracuse, N.Y.).
* Ken Sjobom recorded his 200th win as boys soccer coach at El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.).