By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes
The state of Oregon had 24 prep girls basketball players nominated for the 42nd McDonald’s All-American game this spring, and four of them hail from right here in Keizer.
Senior hoopers Ana Coronado, Bailey Hittner, Trinity Phipps and Abigail Hawley each received consideration for the annual all-star contest.
Coronado, Hittner and Phipps all play basketball at Blanchet High School while Hawley is a star at McNary High School.
The girls were put up for recognition by coaches and administrators at Blanchet and McNary. After going through all the local nominees from each state, the national committee for the McDonald’s event settled on selecting 24 candidates from Oregon.
Even though the girls don’t play on the same high school team, their friendships go all the way back to fifth grade when they played youth basketball together for Keizer Youth Basketball Association (KYBA).
Coronado, Hittner, Phipps and Hawley all played together until their freshmen year. Even during high school, the girls still play on the same Amateur American Union (AAU) team called the Mid-Valley Monarchs.
Ron Hittner — who is the father of Bailey and the head coach at Blanchet — started coaching all four of these girls in fifth grade and has continued to coach them at the AAU level as well.
Seeing them grow into the excellent players and people that they are has been a gift for Coach Hittner.
“Their personal athletic achievements speak for themselves, but they deserve this because they are all great girls,” Coach Hittner said. “They work incredibly hard both on the basketball floor and in the classroom.”
All four girls have been crucial to their respective team’s success so far this season.
ABIGAIL HAWLEY (MCNARY)
Hawley is in her fourth year playing for the McNary varsity team and leads the squad in scoring at 13 points per game.
She also leads the team in three-point field goals (23) and helped the Celtics start the Mountain Valley Conference season with six straight wins.
She received second-team all-Greater Valley Conference recognition last season and played a big role in the Celtics reaching the postseason. Hawley also received an honorable mention nod her sophomore year.
“I definitely couldn’t be where I’m at right now if I didn’t have the support of my coaches and teammates,” Hawley said. “I’ve really been working on my leadership skills and keeping my team excited about what we’ve done so far this season.”
What her coach says:
“She is just a joy to coach. She works hard every day,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “She is very consistent on both ends of the floor.”
Other Sports: Hawley was a first-team all-league performer for the McNary girls soccer team in the fall.
TRINITY PHIPPS (BLANCHET)
Phipps has been a starter for Blanchet in each of the last three seasons and is in her second year as a team captain.
She is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12 ppg. She is also pulling down three rebounds a game and shooting 48 percent from the field.
Phipps earned second-team all-PacWest Conference honors last season.
“It’s a big honor to be nominated,” Phipps said. “It’s pretty cool that all four of us have gotten recognition.”
What her coach says:
“Ever since fifth grade, Trinity has been one of the most flexible players on the team,” Coach Hittner said. “She has really come in to her own on the offense end, but she’s just a great all-around player.”
Other Sports: Phipps is the back-to-back 3A state champion in the 110-meter hurdles. She also placed third in the state in the triple jump.
BAILEY HITTNER (BLANCHET)
Just like Phipps, Hittner has also been a three-year starter for the Cavaliers, as well as a team captain.
Hittner is one of the team leaders in assists (4.0 per game) and steals (2.1 per game). She shoots 81 percent from the foul line and has knocked down more than 80 shots from behind the arc over the course of her career.
She was a first-team all-conference and third-team all-state performer last season.
“I’ve always seen the McDonald’s All-American nominees and thought it was such a cool thing when I was growing up, so to be able to say that I am one of those is such a big honor, especially being able to share it with my best friends,” Hittner said.
What her coach says:
“I think she is the best defensive player in the state when she puts her mind to it,” Coach Hittner said of his daughter. “She can shut down anyone. We always have her guard the best player on the other team.”
Other Sports: Hittner has won the 200-m event at the PacWest District track meet for the last three years.
ANA CORANADO (BLANCHET)
Regardless of level, Coronado has proven herself to be one of the most dynamic guards in the state over the course of her career.
Not only is she her team’s top scorer at 14.2 ppg, she also leads the Cavaliers with 4.6 assists per game and an incredible 5.6 steals per contest.
Coronado has been a starter for Blanchet in all four years of her high school career and has been a team captain for the last two seasons. She received first-team all-conference honors in her first three years as a members of the Cavaliers and was recognized as the conference player of the year last season.
She also earned first-team all-state honors as a junior, as well as second-team all-state nods as a freshman and sophomore.
“This is a pretty big honor for me. It’s one of those things you see a lot on social media,” Coronado said. “Even if we don’t get chosen for the actual game, it’s still such a honor to receive recognition for the things we have done on the court and off the court.”
What her coach says:
“I believe she is the best player in 3A and I hope she gets player of the year this year because she deserves it,” Coach Hittner said. “She has been one of the best players in the state for the last four years and she is just a complete player on both ends of the court … I’m super proud of her and I’m super excited to see her play at the next level. She is going to help whichever school she goes to.”
Other Sports: Coronado has also received all-league recognition in volleyball and softball over the course of her decorated career at Blanchet. She also won the 400-m event at the PacWest District track meet last season.
Coronado plans to play basketball in college at either George Fox University or Corban College.
Hawley, Coronado, Hittner and Phipps have all experienced incredible success in athletics in their careers. But even though their lives as star prep basketball players is coming to a close, they still have some more things they would like to accomplish.
After a slow start to the season, Hawley looks to lead the youthful Celtics squad back to the postseason.
“We have a lot of determination as a team and we have grown so much,” Hawley said.
Coronado, Hittner and Phipps each were instrumental pieces to Blanchet’s state title in 2017. After taking third place in 2018, these three seniors are hoping to end their high school basketball careers with a second state championship.
“We’ve already done it once, so we know we have the potential to do it again,” Coronado said. “This year, I think we are 10 times stronger than what we were as sophomores. We’re probably one of the most experienced teams in 3A.”
Blanchet enters the postseason as the number two ranked 3A team in the state with a 21-3 record, meaning that a second state title in three years is well within reach for the Cavaliers.
“Having one last run where we get all the way to the end and finish it out would be the perfect way to end our basketball careers,” Phipps said.