McAuley senior makes Parade´s team
The awards she´s garnered this year, however, loudly proclaim her talent.
Cimino, the 6-foot-3 senior center from Catherine McAuley High School in Portland, has been named by Parade Magazine to its annual All-America High School girls´ basketball team. She earned third-team recognition, meaning she is considered one of the top 30 high school girls´ players in the nation. The entire team will be announced Sunday.
According to Parade, Cimino is only the second player from Maine to receive that honor, the other being Joanne Palombo of Brunswick High in 1983. Palombo, now Joanne P. McCallie, was head women´s basketball coach at the University of Maine before taking the same position at Michigan State University.
"This is definitely one of my highest honors," said Cimino, who will attend Stanford University on a basketball scholarship. "This is just awesome."
Earlier this year, Cimino was named a Top 25 player by USA Today, won the Miss Basketball award given to the state´s top senior player, won the Gatorade girls´ basketball Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season and was named to the McDonald´s All-American game in Lexington, Ky.
She played in that game for the East team in a 114-112 loss to the West last Wednesday. Cimino scored two points.
"That was just a great experience," said Cimino, who lives in Yarmouth. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was more than just a game. It was all the activities that went with it."
Cimino averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots this season for the Lions, who advanced to the Class A state championship game, then lost to Cony High School. She played center, though she will likely play on the wing in college.
"Ashley was very selfless to play out of position for us," said Wil Smith, her coach at McAuley. "That made us a better team, but it was a huge sacrifice for her individually."
Cimino has never viewed herself as being bigger than her teammates. "There has always been pressure on me because of the attention I´ve received nationally," she said. "But what I always tried to focus on was what would make my team better."
Still, she never thought playing basketball would lead to so many honors.
"I definitely worked hard to become the best player I could be," said Cimino. "But I never thought about any individual accomplishments. This is a great honor because it shows all the hard work I put in did bring some benefits."
McCallie, who went on to play at Northwestern before embarking on a coaching career, congratulated Cimino on her honor and remembered how the award provided similar proof that her work had paid off.
"It really was a very exciting time for me and my family," said McCallie, who was a fourth-team selection. "I actually think they spelled my name wrong, which was disappointing. But I remember always wanting to strive for the highest level, and (the Parade honor) was symbolic of breaking out on the national level."
Which, said McAuley´s Smith, is exactly what this honor is doing for Cimino.
"I know this is very gratifying for her,"said Smith. "It is the culmination of the commitment made by Ashley and her family over the last four years."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: email@example.com