By Jeremy McDonald
DAYTON, Ore.– Shawnie Spink stands to the side of the hallway with a bowl of food right in front of one of the trophy cases at Dayton High School, just coming down mentality from a tough game against Sheridan where two of her three three-pointers in the game sparked a 28-6 run that turned a then 8-6 game into a 36-12 halftime lead Wednesday night.
“We’ve been starting off the season coming off really good, our best quarters are usually the first quarter this season,” Spink described how strong the team was during the opening half off the game. “Usually in the past, we’ve been a second half team, so it was nice to see that change.
“But I think we did well the whole four quarters (today).”
This five-foot-six-inch junior is far from your ordinary superstar or a back-to-back State Title winner, you could tell that Spink is humble, mellow-toned in personality away from the court as she’s like Kobe Bryant on the court with a killer instinct to lead her squad.
But to get her to this point where her team is 15-1 and 5-0 in the West Valley League in her junior year, let’s take a look back on her journey to this point.
You had a feeling that Shawnie Spink was meant to play basketball with those around her influencing her as she played her first season of basketball in the third grade.
Since then, her dad has helped her develop as a basketball player and continued to do so as she entered High School during the 2014-2015 season.
“My dad is my coach and he has helped me a lot,” said Spink. “He’s sent me to camps and he’s helped me with my game, he pushed me and he told me what I need to work on. So I think my basketball skills, I have to thank my dad for that.”
Her dad, Scott Spink describes her as a good kid that works hard and loves life as she takes pride in everything on and off the court.
“She’s a good kid, she loves life,” he said. “She’s humbled, she works hard, she’s a good student. She takes pride in her classes. She’s a good kid.”
Entering High School that 2014-2015 year, Spink knew that her team was good, but she wasn’t sure how good they could be good.
“It was really nerve racking because back then I didn’t know what we could accomplished or what we can do,” said Spink. “I was scared because I didn’t know how good we could we could be, I knew we could be good but I didn’t know how good we could be.”
They weren’t just ‘good’, they were utterly great. 26-3 great with losses to a Western Mennonite squad that won the 2A Title that year, a Amity squad that finished fourth in 3A and a Valley Catholic team that finished fifth.
To top that, the Pirates won State over another 3A powerhouse in Salem Academy 51-39, something that caught the then-freshman Spink by surprised as she picked up a triple-double in the big game.
“That was a shock to me, when we made it to the State Tournament, I was so excited, I just wanted to get a trophy,” Spink said. “And then we won State and it was the greatest thing, it caught me off surprised.”
On top of that, she won Player of The Year.
“That was definitely a really great award, it was really unexpected,” Spink said. “I was really happy to receive that.”
The following winter, the mentality was there to prove that they deserve to win the ‘Ship again behind their motto of, ‘Prove It;.
“Our sophomore year, our motto was, ‘Prove it’,” said Spink. “Prove that we deserved to win the State Championship because no one thought my freshman year, it kind of happened, it was unexpected. Our goal was to prove that we deserved it and I think we did a really good job my whole sophomore year proving it.”
They did just that.
With an identical 27-3 record, Dayton won a second straight Title with a 56-42 win over fellow West Valley League opponent Amity as Spink won her second straight Player of the Year Title following her 14 point, nine rebound, six assist game over their rival.
“I was very happy,” Spink said with a infectious smile. “It was really exciting.”
For her father/coach, Scott looks at the accomplishment from both sides of the spectrum.
“It’s really satisfying,” said Spink. “As a coach, it’s pretty cool to have a girl like that on your team. She’s a big gamer. The bigger the game, she shows up, she’s ready to go, plays well.
“But then as a dad, I’m pretty proud of her because I know how hard she works.”
Entering her junior year, the goals have changed slightly. She wants to win another State Championship as a leader of this squad, and if she wins Player of the Year again, so be it.
“My goal was to win another State Championship with my team, and play my hardest every time and if I get Player of the Year again that would be awesome, but my goal is to win another State Championship,” said Spink.
As Spink slowly assumes a leadership role through the years entering her junior year, you see that as the team is off to another great start in 2016-2017 as you saw her give her team that spark mentioned above versus Sheridan.
“She’s one of our captains, she’s definitely a floor leader and she does a great job with that,” said Scott Spink.
As the team sits 15-1, Spink mentions how this is probably the strongest start the program has through her time there as their lone lost came to the Lady Crusaders of Salem Academy.
“At the time it was really sad, but at the same time I’m really glad it happened because it showed us what we need to work on and we’ll play Salem Academy down the road,” “So that wasn’t like a do-or-die game, so it’s only a loss if we don’t learn from that game.”
The Lady Pirates have won nine straight since that game and look to continue this trend as they face Santiam Christian on the road Friday as they look to make another run at it behind one of their leaders.
“We’re going to need players off the bench and all five starters, we going to need everyone to score,” said Spink. “You’re not going to have one-, or two-girls; like we’re going to need everyone to come together like we have in the past.”
As Shawnie scored 19 Wednesday night, her success and dedication will continue to lead her team as those around continue to recognize and appreciate her hard work, including that of her uncle and McKay High School in Salem Boys Basketball Head Coach Dean Sanderson.
“Shawnie’s success is due to years of dedicating herself to being the best. It’s easy for kids to say they want to do that but very few have worked as hard as she has. I’m a proud uncle of hers and really enjoy watching her compete,” said Sanderson.
As for who’s the better coach, the junior laughed as she said no comment to the question.
“I don’t know if I can answer that one,” Spink laughed and smiled.