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Thirty Alaska high school basketball players, including five seniors from Juneau-Douglas High School, have been nominated for the 2003 McDonald's All-American Games.
Juneau's Joe Ayers, Bryan Hamey, Byron Wild, Danielle Larson and Amy Neussl were among the 2,500 athletes from around the country that received nominations during the first part of the annual selection process. In mid-February, the list will be whittled down to 100 boys and 100 girls.
Eventually, 24 boys and 24 girls will get to compete in the 26th annual boys game and second annual girls game, which will both take place on March 26 at Cleveland's Gund Arena.
The game is open to the top high school seniors from around the country. Only two Alaska basketball players have ever been invited to play - Trajan Langdon of East Anchorage High School in 1994 and Carlos Boozer of Juneau-Douglas in 1999. Both Langdon and Boozer later played at Duke University and with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, although Langdon is now playing professional basketball in Italy.
Last year, two East Anchorage players - Natalie Jones and Tenecia Macon - made the list of 100 semifinalists for the inaugural girls game.
Besides the five Juneau players, there were several other Southeast athletes nominated. Heather Douville of Craig, Anne Elliott of Ketchikan, Danielle Knudsen of Kake and Sidney Wyman of Sitka made the girls list, while Calin Bjur of Ketchikan, Raymond Douville of Craig and Darren Edenshaw of Hydaburg were nominated for the boys game.
Other girls nominated included Jenny Carpenter of Skyview, Letricia Castillo of Bartlett, Amelia Dillon of Seldovia-English, Jamie Geagel of Seldovia-English, Whitney Leman of Ninilchik, Ashley Mickens of East Anchorage, Erica Putnam of Chugiak, Karen Rabung of Nikiski and Marsha Schirack of Wasilla.
Other boys receiving nominations were Todd Alden of Anchorage Christian Schools, Buddy Bailey of Wasilla, Zack Bowman of Bartlett, Chris Devine of Chugiak, Ian Foley of Kenai Central, Kinzy Reeves of Lathrop, Ray Schafer of Wasilla, Ryan Shaver of Lathrop and Landon Swank of Colony.
Nominations were submitted in October, well before Alaska high school basketball teams were allowed to hold their first practices on Dec. 2. Juneau Empire sports editor Charles Bingham chaired the Alaska nominating committee, but nominations could also be made on the McDonald's All-American Games Web site. A national selection committee will pare the master lists down to the semifinalists and finalists.
Proceeds from the annual games benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities program.