As the Basketball season comes to an end, we reach that point in the year where we must say farewell to the senior players. This year the girls’ varsity basketball team consists of three seniors: Kiaonna Hanna, Ashley Marushok, and Carissa Salazar.
As the girls get ready to say goodbye and head into the next chapter of their lives, they talked about their loving memories made at Palo and what their future holds in store.
Q: How long have you been playing basketball?
Hanna- “I’ve been playing basketball competitively for about six years now. When I first picked up a basketball I was around the age of five or six.”
Marushok- “I’ve been playing basketball for about eight years since I was around 10 years old.”
Salazar- “I’ve been playing basketball since my freshman year of high school.”
Q: What’s the best memory you’ve made at Palo?
Hanna- “The best memory I’ve had at Palo would be being going on the Palo basketball tournament trips. We went to Fresno, California for about four days and I got to spend so much time with my team before the season actually started and so many memories were made during those trips that I’ll always remember.”
Marushok- “The best memory I’ve made at Palo would have to be listening to my teammates read a speech they wrote for me during the senior night game. It was emotional for everyone and I realized how much I was gonna miss my team after graduation.”
Salazar- “One of my favorite memories at Palo was sleeping overnight at Palo for a student council event. I got to sleep in a classroom with all my council members and we would run around the school secretly late at night.”
Q: Is there anything special you’ve done in your life that you’re super proud of? Awards/ Achievements?
Hanna- “One special thing that i’m most proud of would be when I received the Scholar Athlete Award and finally got my letter.”
Marushok- “I’m super proud of receiving the scholar athlete award all four years of my high school career.”
Salazar- “One of my biggest accomplishments has been being elected as the student body vice president for student council and being a team captain for the varsity basketball team.”
Q: Do you do anything special to help prepare yourself for your games?
Hanna- “Some things I do before a game to help me prepare would be listening to music and getting hype also just being around my teammates and getting on the same page with everyone and not goofing around just focusing on basketball at that moment. A song that really gets me hype before a game would be “FREED DAWG” by YoungBoy NBA.”
Marushok- “Before games, I listen to music and try to focus on the game and what I have to do. The song I listen to the most before games would have to be “Nice to Have” by 070 Shake.”
Salazar- “Before games, I always make sure to stretch and say a quick prayer. One of my favorite songs to listen to before a game to get pumped up is “Icon” by Jaden Smith.”
Q: What’s your favorite part about playing basketball?
Hanna- “ My favorite part about playing would be being able to play with my teammates because we’ve become so close this past year and being able to go out and do what we love. I’m going to miss the most about playing basketball at Palo is my teammates and coaches. I wouldn’t know what I would do without them. Another thing is being able to start at home games and actually have fans cheering for you when your name gets announced.”
Marushok- “My favorite part of playing basketball is the atmosphere. There is just such good energy in the gym when we’re all together having fun. I’m going to miss the team the most. We all kind of grew up together from freshman year until now. They’re like my family.”
Salazar- “My favorite part about playing basketball is being apart of a team and of course winning games with them. What I’m going to miss most about playing basketball is wearing the Palo jersey and representing my school. I’m going to miss working hard to win games and hearing that other schools are scared to play us.”
Q: What are you looking forward to in college?
Hanna- “I plan on attending Penn State University and hopefully playing basketball for them. What I’m looking forward to is mostly just the experience of college and being able to continue my education so I can pursue what I want to do in life. I will be majoring in Kinesiology.”
Marushok- “I’m not planning on playing basketball in college. I’m looking forward to a change in pace for college. I believeI’ll be majoring in business or fine arts.”
Salazar- “I’m looking forward to college because it is the next big step into my future and I am majoring in nutritional science. Now that season is over and I have thought about trying to get myself into basketball some way, somehow during college. Even if it means at another school.”
Q: Is there anyone who contributed with your success during the basketball season?
Hanna- “One who was really there in helping succeed this season would be my dad. I appreciate him so much for being by my side and cheering me on.”
Marushok- “I would say my dad contributed to my success during the season. He was always there to coach me from the sidelines and would tell me how to improve after every game.”
Salazar- “I would like to thank my coach, Clarke for always pushing me and teaching me so much about basketball and work ethic. Coach Williams for caring about me all throughout my high school seasons and improving my game. Coach Heald for always keeping me calm and smart during games. The athletic department at Palo for being supportive and all their hard work. And of course my family for being there at all my games and encouraging me to keep playing.”
Q: How did you feel stepping onto the Palo court for the last time?
Hanna- “My time stepping on Palos basketball court felt so surreal I couldn’t believe it. Senior Night was really emotional for me.”
Marushok- “It was probably one of the hardest times in my life stepping on the court for the last time. For me, it was going to be the last time in my whole basketball career, and basketball has been a part of me for most of my life.”
Salazar- “Stepping on the Palo court for the last time was bittersweet because I knew I was going to miss it so much but it was also so amazing knowing all my blood sweat and tears the last four years has been worth it.”
The girls say goodbye to their high school basketball career and look forward to the next step. They will always be Panthers and forever missed.