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Ashtyn Veerbeek named the Sioux City Journal Girls high school player of the year.




HULL, Iowa | During a state tournament postgame interview, a reporter queried Hull Western Christian girls basketball coach Justin Negen about whether or not he has to let his players know to feed Ashtyn Veerbeek the ball when she’s hot.“They know,” Negen responded.


It certainly shouldn’t require a lot of thought on the part of Western Christian players when it comes to getting the ball in the hands of Veerbeek, honored today as The Sioux City Journal girls basketball player of the year.


Although only a junior, the 6-foot-2 Veerbeek has established herself as the cream of the crop with her versatility, court knowledge and God-given basketball talent.


The University of Nebraska commit led the Wolfpack to their fourth Iowa Class 2A state championship in the last six seasons, averaging 22.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Those totals ranked second and sixth, respectively, in Class 2A.


“She’s a super-special talent but what’s so great about her is she’s extremely coachable,” Negen said. “She wants to learn more, she wants to be challenged and really emerged this year as a great leader for our team.


“Ashtyn loves hoops and it was just so much fun to watch her develop not only skill wise throughout the course of the season but as a leader in the locker room and the floor.”


Veerbeek was at her finest when Western Christian dismantled top-ranked and previously unbeaten Iowa City Regina 71-49 in a state tournament semifinal. She scored 31 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked six shots.


The Wolfpack had a nailbiter with Treynor in the championship game, pulling out a 51-48 victory despite a rare sub-par performance from Veerbeek, who readily admitted that fact after the game.


“She may not have had her greatest game against Treynor but she was right there in the huddle getting everybody fired up,” Negen said. “We’re glad to have her."


⦁ The 17-year-old daughter of Ron and Tammi Veerbeek already ranks second on the school’s all-time girls scoring list with 1,252 points. Brooke (Wolterstorff) Granstra is the leader with 1,314 points.


⦁ A two-time all-stater, Veerbeek played on a state runner-up team as a freshman and semifinalist last season. Despite losing their coach, Bill Harmsen, who guided the team to three state titles in a row before taking over the boys program, the Wolfpack returned to the top of the heap this season.


“Having a new coach was a little bit of a different transition but we just had to trust Coach Negen to continue the success of the program,” Veerbeek said. “We just went to practice every day trying to get better than we were the day before and keep working toward our goal which was ultimately to win the state championship.


“Our seniors did a great job of leading us and making sure we were working our hardest every day. Being able to get down to state and win just capped it off and it was awesome and a dream come true.”


Although primarily a forward, the agile Veerbeek is called upon quite often to bring the ball up the court. She has expanded her range, which has made her even more of a threat to score any time she has the ball in her hands.


“Last year I played mostly in the paint and rarely went outside to shoot,” Veerbeek said. “This year I really worked on my outside shot and becoming a threat on the perimeter so that if I hit some big shots outside they would have to come at me and I could take them to the hole off my dribble. Being able to open up my game by creating an outside shot was big.


“I tried to use that more this year and I’ll keep working on shooting and ballhandling, just trying to get better at those skills.”


Veerbeek has spent the last several years playing for the Iowa Barnstormers West AAU team, composed of players from Northwest Iowa. She will step it up this summer and play for the All Iowa Attack program out of Ames, where she will compete with and against some of the top players in the state.


Veerbeek also earned all-state volleyball honors and her mother has guided the Wolfpack to multiple state championships. Basketball, though, is her first love and she is looking forward to continuing not only next season at Western Christian, but as a future Nebraska Cornhusker.


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