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Young basketball player making a name for herself

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Sarasa Partida, an eighth-grade basketball phenom, stands with some of her trophies, medals and other gear she's won at basketball tournaments over the years.

Sarasa Partida, an eighth-grader at Harrison Middle School, is making a name for herself on the basketball court.

Partida has been playing organized basketball since she was five years old. The five foot two inch point guard plays for a team out in Mission, Ore. named American Horse. Before Partida moved to Sunnyside a couple of years ago she lived there.

Since last Fall Partida and her American Horse teammates have won seven tournaments. At her last tournament, Partida averaged 17 points per game and was awarded the tournament MVP award.

"That makes me happy," the shy teenager said.

She's been playing organized ball since she was five years old, but she's been into basketball since she was three years old. Her favorite player is Michael Jordan and she got into basketball because she saw Jordan in the movie Space Jam.

"That's when I started," she said. "I started out throwing a sock into a garbage can."

Soon she was playing on teams. She even played football from age 10 to age 12. "I played receiver but I was quarterback too sometimes," she adds.

When asked why she liked basketball so much, she simply replied that she just likes it. She plays basketball everyday. Why? "To get better," she says.

Partida has twice been asked to represent her country and play as a People to People Sports Ambassador and play in the Youth Friendship Games held in Holland. The expense of the trip so far has prevented her from accepting.

She's a straight-A student and hopes to attend the University of North Carolina and play for the Tar Heels. She would eventually like to try out for the WNBA.

That's her plans anyway. If things don't work out this way Partida said she would like to be either a lawyer or a model if she can't play professional basketball.

"I'm proud, really proud of her," Daniel Partida, Sarasa's father, said. "I'm afraid she will be leaving soon. She's going to be playing basketball somewhere."

He said teams will call and ask her to play for them. "She's played for several teams," he added. "It seems like she is going to another tournament every other week."

Next year, Partida will be starting high school and hopes to play for the Grizzlies. She added she wants to go to State.

If she does, she will be wearing either number 23, for her hero Jordan, or number 15. This is the first number she ever wore, and it's kind of stuck with her.

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