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Originally published Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Oregon basketball ace kept off boys team

Jaime Nared is nearly 6-foot-1 and blessed with Michael Jordan-style skills. In games, the 12-year-old can more than hold her own against...

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BEAVERTON, Ore. — Jaime Nared is nearly 6-foot-1 and blessed with Michael Jordan-style skills. In games, the 12-year-old can more than hold her own against the boys, dropping three-pointers and sometimes scoring 30 points or more.

And there, according to her coach, lies the problem.

She's so good, Michael Abraham said, she makes the boys look like scrubs. So she has been told she can no longer play on boys teams at The Hoop, a private Beaverton basketball facility that runs a league in which Abraham's teams compete.

The trouble started last month, when some parents told The Hoop management they didn't like Jaime playing with the boys.

Hoop officials notified Abraham that Jaime, after years on one of his boys teams, was barred. They cited a rule, in a document coaches sign when they enter teams in the league, that prohibits mixed-gender teams.

"I never saw the rule," said Abraham, who has coached basketball, mostly girls and women's teams, for 32 years.

"If I'd known about it, I wouldn't have put any of my teams in the league. Besides, she's been playing on this team since second grade, and she plays on our team when we travel around the region. There's never been one word of complaint."

Neal Franzer, The Hoop's director of operations, said Thursday that parents were "adamant" that their complaints have nothing to do with Jaime's skills.

"They said the problem was the boys were playing differently against her because she was a girl," he said. "They'd been taught to not push a girl, so they weren't fouling her hard, and the focus had shifted from playing basketball to noticing a girl was on the floor with them."

Hoop officials e-mailed Abraham to remind him of the rules.

"The rule may not have been enforced in past years," Franzer said. "We have new management this year. It's policy, and we enforce policy."

Abraham, Jaime and her parents don't buy it. "I think the complaints come from parents who don't like seeing a girl that good playing against their sons," Abraham said.

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Jaime, who said she "fell in love" with basketball when she was 8, likes the boys team because boys play a fast-paced game.

"I think the boys on a specific team don't like me," she said. "It doesn't seem fair."

Jaime's mom, Reiko Williams, said the issue boiled over after a particular game.

"She scored 30 points," Williams said. "I remember one play. She stole the ball, dribbled up court and made a behind-the-back pass to a teammate. He missed the lay-in, and she grabbed the rebound and put it in. I think it was just too much for some of those parents."

Abraham put Jaime on the boys team to match her skills and keep her with peers. He has had her play on high-school girls teams, but many travel and "her parents want her to be around kids her own age," Abraham said.

And when she played on same-age girls teams?

"We beat one team 90-7," Abraham said. "At her level, it's like having Shaq on a high-school team."

He said the boys on his team enjoyed playing with Jaime — among a handful of girls to play on his boys teams over the years — because she helped them improve.

"If she were 4-feet-9 and no good, we wouldn't be having this discussion," Abraham said.

"I can't think of one boy that we've played against that's had a problem with her," he added. "Maybe their dads do. Teach the boys how to handle her. Front her, deny her the ball. ... Listen, she's a girl's girl, but she plays tough. She's no cupcake. She gets knocked down and takes a charge."

For now, Jaime is back playing with girls: on a sixth-grade team and a nontraveling high-school team. Abraham appealed The Hoop's ban but was denied.

Jaime, whom he considers the best sixth-grade girls basketball player in the country, is the one who will suffer, Abraham said.

Even so, she's sure to play in college and beyond, he said. Her father, Greg Nared, played at the University of Maryland, and her older sister is headed there in the fall on a basketball scholarship.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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