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Fifth grader has hoop hopes in elite league

A La Conner Elementary School student is getting an advanced education on the hardwood.

Josie Catubo, an 11-year-old fifth grader, is making the grade as a member of the Pacific Northwest Rain girls' youth basketball program.

Founded by former Mount Vernon High School and Western Washington University hoops standout Tyler Amaya, Pacific Northwest Rain is the premier basketball training center in Northwest Washington.

"I practice twice a week and we have about six tournaments a season," Josie told the Weekly News. "This is my third season earning a spot to play for the Rain."

Josie was introduced to basketball as a third grader when she played in the SWISH league (Skagit, Whatcom, Island and Snohomish counties) with fourth and fifth graders. She heard about the Rain from her parents, Sanny and Corey Catubo, who attended high school with Amaya.

For Josie, trying out for the Rain was a slam dunk.

"I like my teammates and coaches," she said. "I like the skills that I am taught and the court time that I get."

She practices in Burlington and has games in Seattle, Auburn, Centralia and Preston.

"This coming season, we have a local-ish tournament in Marysville," she said.

A longer trip perhaps looms this summer.

"We may be going as far as Las Vegas in July," Josie said.

When not playing basketball, Josie follows her favorite sport in-person or on TV.

"I go to as many La Conner High School games as possible – both boys and girls," she said. "I also go to the middle school games and if the elementary boys play – we go! I've been to a couple Skagit Valley College games and a handful of Seattle Storm games. As far as watching on TV, yes, I am always watching basketball. Men's, women's, college, YouTube highlights, courtside films, anything and everything to do with basketball."

Josie has several favorite players whose games she studies. Those include Jada Williams of the University of Arizona, JuJu Watkins of the University of Southern California and Storm star Jewell Loyd.

Josie also closely followed the play of former La Conner High School guard Josie Harper, who was a scoring threat for the Lady Braves both from the perimeter and on drives to the iron.

Basketball isn't just a big part of Josie's life now. She hopes it will be in her long-term future as well.

"I would love to get a scholarship to college to play basketball and to make it to the WNBA," she said.


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