By Christian Weaner
Aliya Strock, Junior
With 1.7 seconds on the clock and her team clinging to a two-point lead, junior Aliya Strock stepped to the free-throw line and sank the two biggest shots of her career, putting the finishing touches on a 69-65 win over 4A favorite Shelley that gave the Sandpoint Bulldogs their first girls’ basketball state championship in school history.
"It still feels surreal that I was on a team that won state," Aliya exclaimed. "It was great to prove those who didn’t think that our team could win wrong."
In her first three years at Sandpoint High School (SHS), Aliya has asserted herself as a bona fide star athlete, and she was recently selected as the 5A-4A Female Athlete of the Year for 2022-2023.
Aliya averaged 14.3 points, 4.6 steals and 4.7 rebounds per game this season, earning her the 4A Inland Empire League Player of the Year honors and a First-Team All-State selection; not to mention her First-Team All-League and Second-Team All-State nominations in soccer this past fall and her prowess as a talented sprinter and jumper on the track and field team.
When Aliya began playing varsity sports two years ago, she struggled to have confidence in herself as an athlete. However, she has grown tremendously in this area over the past year, which has catalyzed her success.
"When I first started playing these high-level sports as a freshman, I was not at all confident in myself, nor my abilities," Aliya explained. "My dad, Michael Strock, has pushed me to get out of that mental block, and this year I made a pact with myself, with the help of my mom, Kristin Strock, and my dad, that I would give 100 percent effort each time I’m on the court/field/track."
Aliya hopes that her hard work and dedication as a student athlete will eventually earn her a scholarship to play sports in college somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. She also aspires to go to school to become a physical therapist or trainer.
When not participating in sports, Aliya loves to get outdoors and enjoy all four seasons in Sandpoint, whether that looks like snowboarding in the winter, hiking in the fall or swimming in the summertime. She looks forward to one more year of high school and hopes to soak in as many memories as possible at SHS.
"I just want to say that I love this town, this community, and all the people who have been there for me, and I can’t wait for next year," Aliya excitedly added.