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4A/3A state basketball notebook: Best ninth grader in Washington? Look to big farm on the left

Gonzaga Prep's Aylah Cornwall has shown a high level of strength, skill and determination in leading Bullpups to Class 4A semifinals

TACOMA, Wash - With such a cushy class of talented ninth graders in Washington girls basketball, who is the best?

You might have to look East.

On a 4,000-acre crop farm in tiny Spangle.

Aylah Cornwall resides there, but drives an hour one-way to play at Gonzaga Prep.

Cornwall and the young Bullpups are in the Class 4A semifinals Friday, not only trying to win a WIAA championship now, but showing the classification where one of the blossoming powerhouses could be over the next few seasons.

"We are so young," Gonzaga Prep girls coach Geoff Arte said. "But we are not really afraid."

Cornwall is at the center of it all.

Initially, she figured she would end up playing at St. George's, a private Class 2B program. But at the last minute, she changed her mind - and enrolled with the Bullpups.

And with her uncanny strength to get to the rim, as well as deep 3-point shooting ability, she could just be a scorer.

But for the Bullpups, she runs the point - and has the vision for that role, too.

"She has all the great things you want from a great basketball player," Arte said.

Cornwall said she has modeled her game after arguably the best point guard to ever come out of this state.

"I have been striving ro be like Hailey Van Lith my whole life," said Cornwall of the now starting point guard for NCAA champion LSU.

"Coming out of Cashmere - a smaller school - and her going into the big leagues and playing at such a high level, I want to be just like her."