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By JOE JUDD
Daily News Sports Editor
For Alexis Biggerstaff, basketball has been a part of daily life since the very beginning.
“It’s always been something that has come as second nature to me, especially now I look at it as more of an opportunity for success,” Biggerstaff said. “This is an opportunity for me to succeed in life.”
A 2016 Ketchikan High School graduate, Biggerstaff has spent countless hours both on and away from the court honing her craft and making adjustments along the way.
Biggerstaff is well into her sophomore season, averaging 17.4 points per game, on a Everett Community College women’s basketball team that has compiled an 11-3 record to this point.
The second-year forward said the Lady Trojans have improved from her freshman season to the current one.
“This year we have some really good recruits and our game is much more fast-paced,” Biggerstaff said. “I think we came out looking really strong to other teams.”
Biggerstaff has played in 14 games so far this season and is shooting 39 percent from the field, going 47-for-58 from the free-throw line.
The former Kayhi Lady King has also proven that she is capable of sinking a long shot from time to time, going 33 percent from 3-point range on the season.
Along with the changes taking place from a team perspective, Biggerstaff said she personally has improved from her freshman to sophomore year of college.
Biggerstaff said that she wasn’t quite sure of what the collegiate basketball experience would consist of when she first arrived on the ECC campus in the fall of 2016.
Hard work took on a whole new definition by the time basketball season began that winter.
“I didn’t know what the collegiate level was going to be like and how much you have to work to really get noticed,” Biggerstaff said. “If you do want to get picked up (by a four-year school) you really have to showcase your talent in every game.”
Reflecting on her freshman season, Biggerstaff — a starter — performed well, showed off her skills and had a positive impact on games for her team.
Still, she admits that something wasn’t 100 percent during this time.
“I don’t think that I personally showcased what I was capable of,” Biggerstaff said. “I didn’t think I had the ability or skill to do that yet.”
That is where things began change and take a step in the right direction for Biggerstaff. She returned home to Ketchikan during the offseason and summer vacation, participating in open gyms with her former high school team and attending CrossFit sessions to get in the best possible physical shape.
Biggerstaff said that balancing everything successfully gave her a boost of mental confidence as well.
"I think that is what really changed me between freshman and sophomore year,” Biggerstaff said. “Just taking the time off to focus on what I can achieve and seeing the change and difference, which has helped me this season.”
Perhaps an even bigger change in Biggerstaff’s basketball evolution was the transition from high school to college basketball.
As she reflected to two years ago as an incoming freshman, Biggerstaff said she first noticed how the college game had become far less community driven like it was in high school.
“The (Ketchikan) community really does appreciate the game of basketball and coming together,” Biggerstaff said. “There were a lot more people participating in our games and watching us grow as basketball players.”
This tight-knit feeling of closeness did not follow along with Biggerstaff to Washington State.
“When you play college sports, it’s more of a job. It’s all business,” she said. “More is expected of you.”
Practices are more intense, and coaching staffs expect players to be able to manage themselves for the most part in the world of college basketball. College — not just college basketball — has been a period of learning and adjustment for Biggerstaff, even though basketball has been one remaining constant during this span of time.
“It gets crazy with bills, practice, school and trying to find the time to get everything done,” Biggerstaff said. “It’s a big change.”
Despite the many changes experienced between her time at Kayhi and ECC, Biggerstaff said she has memories from her time as a Lady King that she cherishes.
Biggerstaff said that she can recall beating an Anchorage team in double overtime during her junior year at Kayhi.
Biggerstaff said she remembers that year’s team as not having the height, but made up for the lack of height with a scrappy and aggressive style of play on the court.
Going up against a much taller team as the underdogs, Kayhi battled for six quarters of basketball and eventually emerged victorious, catapulting the occasion into Biggerstaff’s memory bank for good.
“We played a team that was probably the complete opposite of us — they were big, tall and strong. We were small and really good at defense. It was such a battle,” Biggerstaff said. “We came together and proved what we were capable of.”
Many of those individuals who were involved in creating those memories alongside Biggerstaff still play an important role in her life.
Biggerstaff said she still keeps in touch with her former teammates and coaches, providing them with updates and helping out with practices if she happens to be in town.
For current Kayhi basketball players who look to Biggerstaff for inspiration with the dream of one day playing college basketball — possibly at the Division I level — Biggerstaff offered a few words of advice.
Biggerstaff stressed the need to comprehend all that goes into becoming a full-time college athlete in any sport.
“You really have to be 100 percent on board,” Biggerstaff said. “It’s not for everyone. It’s not always fun — it’s not always going to be a blast and you’re not always going to be with your friends. You really have to focus on what you want to achieve.”