The win total may not have been what the Seton Catholic High School girls basketball team had hoped for during the season, but no squad was better in the classroom.
The Cougars captured the Class 1A state academic championship during the 2017-2018 season with a combined grade point average of 3.958 – one of the highest team GPA’s during the winter sports season for any classification.
“Academically, I could always count on the girls to focus on their education first. We have a set time for when practice starts, and when someone makes it to practice late with the excuse of meeting with the teacher, it’s true,” said Seton Catholic head coach William Ephraim, whose team finished with a 1-18 record. “Seton has a history of high academics and is hard to maintain high grades during the season, but these girls were able to do that while playing the sport. What I found remarkable is that we did not have a winning season and the girls still managed to focus on their grades, maintain a positive attitude and had fun.”
The Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association recognized state academic champions in 14 sports and activities in six classifications during the winter season.
The Cougars’ 3.958 GPA was the second highest among the more than 60 programs which received a state academic championship, trailing on the 3.986 GPA put up by the Puget Sound Adventist Academy girls basketball team in the 1B ranks.
The Seton Catholic girls basketball team featured three seniors this year in Cheyenne Badger, Kiya Gere and Josie Partridge
“We had a nice mixture, mostly underclassmen. We had three seniors and each of them played a valued role,” Ephraim said. “All three were great leaders, even though one only started. They maintained the traditions at Seton, like our secret sisters and played a big role in leading underclassmen.”
Rounding out the Cougars’ roster was juniors Amira Arguello, Aislynn Hogan, Claire Kirn and Katherine Zdunich, sophomores Tui Chetekwe, Michaela Ephraim, Cailean McGovern, Jasmine Morgan, Haley Vick and Emma Watkins and freshman Madi Manary.
“During the middle of the season these girls figured out that instead of just going through the motion and allowing the season to just get over, they’ve made a decision to improve,” Ephraim said. “Their communication during practices were focused on improving on the thing that we struggled with. It made coaching easier. I did not have to motivate these girls.”
The Cougars will welcome back four of their five starters next season, including guards Morgan, who paced the team with an 11 points per game average, Vick, who averaged 5.5 points a contest and Michaela Ephraim, who was fourth on the team at 4.2 points per game.
“What sticks out about our sophomore and junior classes, I’m impressed with how well they got along. They understood their situation and continued to work hard and improve,” Ephraim said. “One of the issues we faced over the years at Seton was the off-season training. There was none. These girls this year are excited to work hard over the off-season. They’ve taken the initiative, these girls want to be competitive next year. I’m excited about that.”
The Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires Scholastic Award program, which recognizes and rewards teams or groups that maintain a high collective academic standard, is open to varsity or sub-varsity (JV, freshman, etc.) sports teams, activity squads such as dance & drill and cheer squads, and fine arts groups such as bands, choirs, orchestras, dramatic troupes and forensics teams.
Any team or group with an average GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) of 3.0 or higher qualifies for a state award. A team with an average GPA of 3.00-3.49 qualifies for the Distinguished Team Award and a team with an average GPA of 3.50-4.00 qualifies for the Outstanding Team Award. In addition, the team or group with the highest average GPA for their activities and classification level is recognized as Academic State Champion.