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Originally published Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Prairie's Ashley Corral a force from start

It had not occurred to Hala Corral that not every 4-year-old girl could play like her little girl. Then her daughter, Ashley, stepped into...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Ashley Corral

Height: 5-foot-9

Year: Senior

High school: Prairie (Brush Prairie)

College: USC

By the numbers: 19 points per game, 5 assists per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 3 steals per game

Favorite athlete: Steve Nash

Ringtone: "Sexy Can I" by Ray J

Last iPod download: "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne and DJ

Betcha didn't know: Corral can juggle

Favorite book: "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," by Mitch Albom

Worst basketball moment: When she dislocated her left ankle at a national camp this summer, three games after returning from surgery on her right ankle

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More sports: Golf | Tennis | Swimming | Cross-country

It had not occurred to Hala Corral that not every 4-year-old girl could play like her little girl. Then her daughter, Ashley, stepped into her first practice and was the only girl dribbling with both hands and drilling jumpers.

Even 14 years ago, Prairie senior Ashley Corral ran circles around the girls her age. She is The Seattle Times state player of the year in girls basketball because little has changed since.

The state's only McDonald's All-American this year recovered from a pair of ankle surgeries to lead Prairie to another undefeated season in the Greater St. Helens League and to a third-place finish in the Class 4A tournament, her fourth trophy in as many years.

"I thought this was the best team I've played on in four years," Corral said.

Corral returned a week before the season, ahead of schedule. She finished the season averaging 19.0 points for the state's second-ranked team. She has signed with USC.

"She's just going to continue to grow and get better," said Prairie coach Al Aldridge. "I think that she's just going to be sensational, I really do."

In Southern California, Corral will return to where her basketball domination began. Even as an infant, she passed a ball back and forth with her mom.

"Ever since she could walk, she had a ball in her hands," Hala Corral said.

At the playground 10 minutes from the Corrals' house in Victorville, Calif., it didn't take long for the neighborhood boys to realize that Corral belonged in their game.

"I never really played with girls," Corral said. "I always played with boys ... The pace was a little different. It was a lot more physical."

Before she turned 10, her family moved to Snohomish, where she could have been a future teammate of another all-state player, Jackson's Kristi Kingma. But when Corral was 12, her family moved to Vancouver, Wash.

They moved once more, before her freshman season, so that Corral could live within Prairie's boundaries and play for Aldridge, who has won five state championships. Aldridge first saw her when Corral was in seventh grade.

"She was exceptional right away," Aldridge said.

And competitive. Raised by a pair of softball and volleyball players — "There's no easy Monopoly game in our family," Hala Corral said — she never took well to losing. Corral didn't lose much, though — only 16 times in her four years with the Falcons.

When she had to pick a quote to run under her picture in the Prairie gameday programs, Corral chose, "If you get somebody down, kick them and don't let them up."

Said Aldridge: "She is about as competitive as any kid I've been around in any sport. From a coach's standpoint, it's wonderful. You're never out of a game when she's out there."

Her most important goal this season was to win the state championship. The Falcons came up short, losing to eventual champion Lewis & Clark in the semifinals. Corral won't let that sting for too long.

"It's time to go to college," Corral said, "and try to win something else."

Tom Wyrwich: 206-515-5653 or twyrwich@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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