Super sophomore: Milwaukie HS girls basketball star leads state in scoring
MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KPTV) - She’s one of the best point guards around and near the top of the scoring list in the state of Oregon – not bad for a sophomore.
She’s believed to be the youngest to ever notch 1,000 points in an Oregon prep career. It’s the first of many milestones for Milwaukie’s super sophomore, Cali Denson.
“I love the hard work too – the sweat. It’s an escape from me,” she said.
It’s the sweet escape from teen life to the court where she flat out dominates, the state leader in scoring as a freshman.
“Come see me in person. You’ll see for yourselves that it’s true, it’s happening,” Denson said.
Denson is a strong candidate to repeat as player of year from the smallest school in the always tough 5A Northwest Oregon Conference.
A score first point guard with Pistol Pete skills, the 4.0 student writes with her left and shoots with her right.
“I was originally going to shoot with my left hand, but he didn’t know how to coach that, so he started me with my right hand,” said Denson.
Most of Denson’s court awareness has been culled from her stepfather. Michael White has been dad since she was 4.
“We’ve been best friends forever so just to take that to a sport that I love? It’s really cool,” said Denson.
Another cool note in this father-daughter story? Dad took over the head coaching job for the high school in their backyard.
“Literally, it was the last second. It was the first day of school. We were supposed to go drop her off at St. Mary’s and I changed my mind and took this job,” White said.
The JV coach at St. Mary’s, White leaped at the ability to build something big in the Mustangs’ barn.
“It just felt special keeping her here just in the neighborhood where she grew up playing,” he said.
The Oak Grove kid wears number 22, just like her dad.
“She has a conscience. She’s a shooter with a conscience which is tough,” said White.
Denson is a rare breed of teen with no desire to drive, zero social media, and no cell phone. The 16-year-old calls them all “distractions” from time that could be better spent in the gym.
“When it’s game day, that’s all I can think about. Like today, the day was going by so slow. I just want to play! I just want to play,” she said.
After playing two more years with the Lady ‘Stangs, “Calzone” will be cooking it up at the next level.
The kid who loves to watch Dame Lillard and Steph Curry has been contacted by Weber State University, University of Washington, Washington State University, and the University of Oregon.
When asked what she was more proud of – the 1,000 points or the 4.0 – Denson said, “Both, but the 4.0 because that helps me get the thousand points because if I don’t get good grades, I can’t really play.”
She and the Mustangs have just one more game in their old gym until it’s gutted as part of the overall renovations here in Milwaukie.
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