No one in the history of Centralia High School girls’ basketball has blocked more shots than Ellie Corwin. But don’t undersell the shots she fails to swat away. A high basketball IQ combined with a generous wingspan and instinctive timing actually make it so the senior doesn’t even have to lay a finger on the ball to have an impact on a shot. Her presence in the paint alone usually forces opposing shooters to make adjustments on the fly, resulting in less-than-desirable looks at the basket.
“She’s long and athletic, and knows how to position herself,” Tigers coach Doug Ashmore said about the 6-foot Corwin. “She just shuts down the middle for us.”
A four-year starter, Corwin holds both the school record for blocked shots in a single season and in a career. She will only add to the latter this year with every rejection and could very well challenge the former.
“This is my 11th year of coaching girls’ basketball,” Ashmore said, “and she’s probably one of the top notch kids I have coached. She has great character. She comes to work every day. She’s a three-year captain and every kid loves her. They just want to play for her.”
As effective as she is at turning away shots, Corwin is even better at deflecting praise, electing to view all individual accomplishments as a byproduct of a team effort.
She doesn’t know the exact number of shots she’s denied during her four years with the Tigers. She can’t tell you how many points she averaged last year during a junior campaign which saw her earn first-team all-2A Evergreen Conference honors.
The one thing she can speak confidently on is the enjoyment she gets while playing with her teammates.
“It’s definitely an honor to be a part of this team,” Corwin said. “This team is a family. Over the years we’ve definitely become one. We played a lot of summer ball and just came together as one. It’s just a great bunch of girls. I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else. We love each other and there is no one who is selfish on the team. Everyone is ready to give the ball up, everyone is willing to do what we need to do to win.”
And what about game stats?
“As long as we win and as long as we win as a team,” a smiling Corwin said, “I’m good.”
Play hard, play together and play for each other – that’s the Tigers’ team motto this season and few embodied it more than the four-year starter.
“She doesn’t want any of that,” said Ashmore when asked about personal accolades. “She just wants to win. She’s going to have a great senior year.”
Four years ago, Corwin was talented enough to play on varsity as a freshman, albeit one that was a touch intimidated – which is to be expected.
“In all honesty, it was scary,” Corwin said about her first year with the program. “I was 14, and I was going up against girls who were 18. Girls who had four more years of playing than I did. It was intense. It was definitely a learning experience. I wanted to take away as much as I could from it. I tried to watch how other people handled things and what they did in certain situations, and become a better player from it.”
Last year the Tigers advanced to the district tournament where they bowed out after two losses. Expectations have been greatly increased this year as all five starters are back, including guards Rachel Wilkerson, a 5-9 senior who was a second-team all-conference pick as a junior, and 5-8 sophomore Carissa Kaut, whose 8.6 points per game average was second only to Corwin’s 12.7 last season.
“When we came out this season we knew each other. We knew the starting five. We knew what everyone could do. We don’t have that deep of a bench. We play about eight players, but we just have a strong team,” Corwin said. “I can see the progress and just how much we’ve grown [since last year].”
The goal this past off-season for Corwin was to improve her quickness and her offensive game. Both were showcased during the Tigers’ first two games this year with Corwin scoring a game-high 20 points in Centralia’s 59-17 win over Eatonville and 23 in a 63-34 victory against River Ridge.
“She puts her heart and soul into the entire program, and that’s what separates her from other kids,” Ashmore said about Corwin. “She just buys into everything and really works for it. She just wants the whole Centralia basketball program to get better, and that’s a quality you don’t see a lot in kids.”