High School Sports

Chiawana's Ellsworth emerges from shadows

PASCO -- If you ask Shelby Ellsworth what her best attribute is on the basketball court, you'd probably still be waiting for an answer.

The Chiawana senior rarely is at a loss for words, but when asked to take credit for her immense skills she doesn't want to sound cocky.

She'd rather talk about her team and all the good things it is doing.

"She is that quiet kid that is really humble," Chiawana coach Steve Davis said. "She doesn't want to make herself sound like she is really good."

Yet Ellsworth is really good.

The 5-foot-10 wing is averaging 11.1 points per game for the Riverhawks, who will play host to Richland at 7 p.m. Friday in the CBBN 4A district tournament championship game with a state berth on the line.

Her scoring average doesn't tell the entire story, though.

Ellsworth is a four-year varsity player who is a natural leader, something that has helped at Chiawana with the mish-mash of talent that showed up to play together last season when the school opened.

"Shelby just has one of those personalities where people follow her," Davis said. "And they do it because people respect her. She's one of those that it isn't all about her. It is about the team."

Her team-first attitude was never more apparent than in Saturday's district semifinal victory against Walla Walla.

Ellsworth played solid defense, rebounded and did her job, all while only taking one shot.

Davis said he didn't even notice that Ellsworth had only attempted one shot until after the game because she was so strong in other areas.

Ellsworth doesn't seem very concerned about whether she scores tons of points, just as long as the Riverhawks keep winning.

"When we play as a team and pass it around and share the ball, that is when we are at our best," Ellsworth said. "There are eight of us that can put the ball in the basket."

It's a typical thing for Ellsworth to say, but she sounds as if she believes it rather than just spitting out a cliche.

"Shelby just has that personality where everyone feels comfortable," Davis said. "There are times we tease her and call her 'Mother Shelby' because she just kind of takes care of everybody."

That kind of a personality and player is needed on teams such as Chiawana, which has star power with Hayley Hodgins (18.0 points per game) and Mikaela Rivard (11.8).

"She is that utility player," Davis said. "She is the do-everything on the court for us kid."

Ellsworth said she doesn't mind not being in the spotlight as much as her teammates, players who have earned NCAA Division I scholarships.

"It has always kind of been that way," Ellsworth said. "I'm used to it. As long as we win, I'm good."

Winning constantly is on her mind as she hopes to leave Chiawana having set the bar high for future basketball teams.

"As a little girl I always went to the games (at Pasco High)," she said. "The huge crowds, the excitement, how good they looked. Sometimes I kind of miss Pasco, but you are a part of a new legacy here."

A legacy that has more well-known names, but not many better players.