About an hour before their respective teams began tryouts and the first day of practice for the 2013-14 season, a trio of Sand Creek basketball players made their college choices known.
Mikayla Reese, J'Nae Squires and Dylan Clark - flanked by their parents and supported by family, friends, coaches and administrators - signed national letters of intent to play college basketball Wednesday in the high school's commons area. Reese, a three-year starter, is headed to Southern Methodist University; Squires, who averaged 8.6 points last season, will play at Adams State in Alamosa; and Clark, the Sand Creek boys' program's all-time assists leader, will stay local and attend the Air Force Academy.
The butterflies got to Reese as she signed on the dotted line.
"I was really nervous, and my hand was shaking," said Reese, who led the Scorpions in assists as a junior and scoring as a sophomore. "I was excited the whole day today, and it was really fun."
Squires, whose younger sister Oliana, led the team in scoring last season, can't wait to play at the next level after continuing to work on her skill set as a senior.
"I have so many emotions right now," she said. "This means a lot to me, because I know I've put in a lot of hard work through the years, and I couldn't ask for a better school to come along. I'm really excited to see what I can do up there."
Reese and Squires helped propel the Scorpions to a 21-5 record and a spot in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament last season, so they have high hopes for the 2013-14 campaign.
"I think we have the opportunity to win state this year," Reese said.
Clark is excited about the prospect of following his parents, John and Danielle, into the Air Force and to play for coach Dave Pilipovich and the Falcons.
"I love Coach P, and I'm excited to play for him," said Clark, who averaged 10.9 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game last season. "Both of my parents served in the Air Force, and I want to carry on that legacy. I want to go to the academy to play ball, be an officer and follow in their footsteps.
"I remember walking in here as a freshman, and now I'm already signing and getting ready to go off to college. It's surreal."
The three Sand Creek seniors can concentrate on the court.
"I can now focus on school and improving my game, and I don't have to worry about the recruiting process," said Clark, whose squad went 23-3 and reached the 4A quarterfinals last season. "It's not something that's weighing down my shoulders now."
Reese's decision was made easier by the dedication SMU's recruiters and coaches gave to her and her family.
"They've been supporting me from the day they started recruiting me," she said. "They came to all of my games during the summer and came to open gym, and my whole family loved them when they came for my home visit. They even came to my powder puff game."