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Loughlin’s Alston having big, busy summer

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If the Philadelphia Belles 15U was a car, Jasmine Alston would be its second gear. The speedy, athletic point guard can turn a halfcourt game into a track meet with the dribble of a basketball.

“If you want to change something up or make something happen, you just give Jasmine the ball,” Philly Belles Coach Lou Hilf said. “She’s a slasher and a driver. She loves to go to the hole.”

Alston didn’t have her usual burst July 13 at the USJN East Coast Challenge, but it’s hard to blame her. The Loughlin rising junior just landed late July 12 from Las Vegas, where she helped lead the Belles to the Blue Star Nationals 15U championship at UNLV. Alston, long at 5-foot-9, is officially blowing up with heavy interest from Illinois and Hilf has also gotten calls about her from Rutgers.

“She’s very athletic at the point guard position and has the ability to make plays when she needs to,” said one college coach who has seen her play multiple times. “She’s definitely a Division I player right now.”

The key this summer for Alston was becoming more of a point guard. Consider that mission accomplished with flying colors.

“We have to almost force her to shoot the ball,” Hilf said. “She sees the court real well. She feeds the bigs. The bigs like it when she plays.”

Added Alston: “I think an assist looks better than a bucket sometimes.”

The commute to Philadelphia every weekend has been well worth it for Alston. Her Belles team is one of only about 15 Nike-sponsored 15U teams in the entire country. The Queens native has been playing in front of high-level Division I coaches at just about every tournament and getting better playing against her top-notch teammates in practice.

“People feel threatened by us wherever we go,” Alston said with a chuckle. “With a name like that, we have to go hard every game.”

The Philly Belles were motivated over the weekend in Vegas. Hilf told them if they won all five games, they would get a day off on The Strip. The team pulled it off and Alston and her teammates ate at Maggiano’s Little Italy at the Fashion Show Mall before getting dessert at Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace.

Days without basketball are rare these days for Alston, who has also been playing with the NYC Bulldogs when she isn’t with the Belles. Alston, an All-Brooklyn third team selection by the New York Post, helped lead the Bulldogs to the GymRats Challenge championship in June, so Blue Star Nationals was actually her second significant title of the summer.

Every Friday, though, Alston heads down to Philadelphia for practice. She’ll stay overnight usually until Sunday at a teammate’s house. The Philly Belles practice Friday and Saturday — and Hilf makes them come back Sunday if he doesn’t like how hard they worked the previous two days.

Alston clearly has no problem with that. It’s hard to keep the sparkplug off the court.

“It’s like a family,” she said of the Belles. “We all want to work hard, we all want to get scholarships. We all want to see each other do better.”

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