Pirate hoopers chart college courses

Maddy Dixon and Sydney Watko recently signed letters of intent to play basketball collegiately. Pictured, from left, are: John Dixon, Laura Dixon, Maddy Dixon, Sydney Watko, Ginger Watko, Dave Watko. Back, from left, are: Patti Himmelberg, Bill Himmelberg, Kendall Dixon, Tyler Dixon, McKenzie Watko.

POMEROY — Two seniors from the Pomeroy High girls’ basketball team used similar criteria to choose their future college basketball teams.

Guard Sydney Watko said she signed with NCAA Division III Allegheny College of Meadville, Pa., because “the coach there seemed very welcoming.”

Maddy Dixon, a forward, said she signed with NAIA Providence of Great Falls, Mont., after Argos coach Bill Himmelberg promised her “I could call him any time to talk about anything,” Dixon said.

Added Dixon, “He answered every question that I had and was always there for me.”

Dixon and Watko signed in September with their respective schools during a ceremony at Pomeroy High.

“These two specifically, they’ve been there since the beginning with me,” Pomeroy coach Tai Bye said of the pair, who’ve help the Pirates take second the past two years in the Washington Class 1B tournament. “This is something they’ve wanted since junior high, so to see their dreams come true, it’s really exciting.”

Watko said she was discovered by Allegheny College during an AAU tournament.

“When I started playing AAU basketball with (Northwest Express coach) Corey Baerlocher in high school, one of the tournaments was where I met the coach from Pennsylvania,” Watko said.

“She saw me at a tournament in Oregon, contacted me, and we’ve been chatting for about two years.”

Watko said she fell in love with Allegheny during a campus visit.

“I was talking to my dad and saying, ‘I think this school’s great for me,’” Watko said.

Dixon, who also had an offer from Eastern Washington, said the size of the campus in Great Falls helped sell her on the Argos.

“The school’s a lot smaller and I’m from a smaller school, and I think that aspect will be good for me,” Dixon said.

The day before Dixon signed, Himmelberg came to Pomeroy.

“We were working cows that day,” Dixon said, “so he got to see a little bit of that and part of what my life is like here.”

Dixon, the daughter of John and Laura Dixon, plans to study business at Providence.

“They also have (a) business administration (program) and I’m thinking about that,” Dixon said. “And if I did that, I would come back home and help dad with cows on the farm.”

Watko, the daughter of Ginger and Dave Watko, plans to study biology or chemistry at Allegheny with hopes of becoming a nurse anesthetist. Her prep coach described her as someone who’s always thinking of others.

“(Watko’s) so kind and helpful to the younger kids,” Bye said, “and Maddy, she works harder than really anyone and is kind of the spark that we have.

“They’re both incredible kids and they put a lot of energy and effort into it. I’m so glad we’ve got them on our team.”

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