Former Mount Si hoops star signs professional contract

A former Mount Si High School boys' basketball star has made it to the professional ranks. Jason Arriaga, who graduated from Mount Si in 2000 and was the star on that 1999-2000 Wildcat squad that finished fifth at state - the school's highest finish at state in boys' basketball since 1977 - signed with the expansion Seattle Mountaineers of the International Basketball League.

Arriaga, who works at a club in Bellevue teaching basketball and swimming, got the chance to play for this team through contacts with a local league.

Arriaga, in an e-mail to the Valley Record, had this advice for Valley youth playing basketball: "Keep playing whenever you have the chance."

To that end, he mentioned that the eighth-grade Mount Si select boys' hoops team has beaten the eighth-graders from Newport's select team, which Arriaga is coaching this season, four times already, by an average of 30 points.

Practice for the Mountaineers, coached by Don Sims, starts Jan. 28, and the team opens play March 17. All but two of the team's 19 games will be played on the road; the two home games, April 22 and June 17, will be played at Bellevue Community College. The schedule consists of regional opponents, including teams from Tacoma, Portland, Vancouver, Wash., and Salem.

The International Basketball League is a national "minor" professional league, similar to the Continental Basketball Association, which has a team in Yakima. The IBL, according to its Web site, fields teams from across the country, including teams in the suburbs of major markets such as Chicago, Denver, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.

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