Basketball, basketball and then a little bit more basketball.
Senior-to-be Sahara Hill competes in three sports at Foster, but all of her athletic endeavors usually wind up in exactly the same place.
Here’s a hint: it’s orange and has black stripes.
“Basketball is a love-hate thing all the time,” said Hill, whose three-sport dominance has helped her earn the honor of being the Tukwila Reporter’s first Female Athlete of the Year. “But it’s more love. I can’t really explain it, I just like being in the gym. I like shooting. Even if things don’t go my way, I find myself back in the gym.”
Hill competed in track and field in the spring, plus volleyball in the fall for the Bulldogs, but basketball is where she spends most of her time. Hill plays AAU ball when it’s not high school season. She plans to continue playing at the college level, and she’ll most likely get there because she has the right ingredients.
Hill stands 5-foot-10.
That’s the ticket.
“I think her success is almost solely about work ethic,” said Foster assistant coach Datri Elliot. “It’s impeccable. She works so hard and she tries hard to get her teammates involved.”
Hill led Foster to a 16-10 record and second place in the Seamount 3A/2A last year. Foster then made its way through the playoffs before falling 57-47 to W.F. West in the first round of the 2A state tournament. For Hill, just getting the Bulldogs to the tournament wasn’t enough.
“I want to bring this school back to what it used to be,” Hill said. “I feel desperate to get farther.”
Foster went to state 14 times from 1982 to 1997. The Bulldogs placed fifth or better eight times and won two state titles.
“It’s annoying that we can’t get there because we have the talent to do it,” she said. “It’s got to be a team thing though, it can’t be all about me and I don’t want it to be all about me.”
Hill placed in the top five among the league in points (18.8 per game), rebounds (14.1) and steals (5.0). The numbers, excellent by any standard, continued a natural progression for Hill.
She was a solid contributor as a freshman and by the time she was a sophomore, she led Foster in all three categories.
One of her biggest areas of improvement as a junior was getting to the free throw line. Hill attempted 96 free throws as a sophomore and 209 as a junior. The increase was part of a conscious approach.
“It’s just about being more aggressive,” Hill said. “I just drive in from the wing or point and get whatever foul I can get, especially if we’re down.”
Elliot said driving to the hoop is Hill’s strength.
“It’s indescribable how talented she is driving. She’s just so powerful,” Elliott said.
The one thing Hill needs to work on is her dribbling. At 5-foot-10, Hill is one of the taller players at the high school level, so she’s spent much of her time playing inside. However, at the college level she would need to be a guard, so Hill and her coaches have been working hard on it all summer.
Because of that, expect to find Hill running the point or playing on the wing, and out of the post, more the Bulldogs this year.
“If she cleans up the dribbling she’s unstoppable,” Elliot said. “She’s one of the best players I’ve seen in a long time.”
But along with being hailed as such a great player comes other things, like pressure. Lots of it.
“My family has big expectations for me and I have them for myself too,” Hill said. “Everybody knows me for basketball. Sometimes I need a break from it.”
That’s where volleyball and track come in. Hill has played volleyball since seventh grade. It’s something she enjoys, she’s good at, and it keeps her in shape. More than anything, it’s a mental break.
“I’ve done basketball literally my whole life,” she said. “So when I try new things like volleyball, it gets my mind off of basketball and that’s nice.”
Foster volleyball coach Brandi Travess said Hill is an asset all over the court.
“She is a hard worker and a good leader,” Travess said. “Her main focus is basketball, but she gets a lot of fun and camaraderie out of volleyball.”
Hill has competed in track since eighth grade. Hill mostly does field events and some sprint relays. She’s made it to the district meet in javelin each of the past two years, placing 10th as a junior. She also competed in the shot put and high jump at districts this year.
However, as soon as track and volleyball are done, it’s back to the hardwood.
Hill looks up to a range of professional and college players, but all of them have one thing in common. They’re hard workers.
“I like focusing on hard workers because it’s like I can do what they do. Well, I can’t dunk,” Hill said with a laugh. “But I can put in the work like them.”
With that, Hill’s grabbing a ball and heading back toward the hoop.
After all, there’s work to do.