Former foes Sparks, Zimmerman hold court together at Western Nebraska C.C.

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Hannah Sparks has the talent to jump far, but she’d rather jump higher.

The recent graduate of Aurora’s Cherokee Trail High School passed on a number of scholarship offers to compete in track — where she was a talented long and triple jumper and relay runner — to pursue her love of basketball.

Cherokee Trail senior guard Hannah Sparks makes a layup against Heritage. Sparks, a point guard, has signed a national athletic letter of intent to play at Western Nebraska Community College in 2014-15. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Cherokee Trail senior guard Hannah Sparks makes a layup against Heritage. Sparks, a point guard, has signed a national athletic letter of intent to play at Western Nebraska Community College in 2014-15. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

According to her father, Andre, Sparks — a first team All-Centennial League and second team Aurora Sentinel All-City selection for the 2013-14 season — is headed to Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The 5-foot-7 point guard signed her national athletic letter of intent for a full ride basketball scholarship in April, but wasn’t part of Cherokee Trail’s larger signing ceremony.

In three varsity seasons at Cherokee Trail, Sparks averaged 12.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She posted career bests in all three categories as a senior when she led the Cougars (11-14) in scoring at 15.0 ppg, assists at 3.4 apg and steals at 3.2 spg.

At Western Nebraska, Sparks is set to join up with another Aurora standout — Smoky Hill grad Brooke Zimmerman — as a teammate and roommate. Aside from going against each other in Centennial League play twice a season, the two play together with the Aurora-based Colorado Lady Swoosh club team.

Smoky Hill's Brooke Zimmerman
Smoky Hill’s Brooke Zimmerman is headed to Western Nebraska C.C. after averaging 11.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game as a senior. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Western Nebraska has a successful tradition, featuring 26 straight seasons of 20-plus victories and a tally of 77 players who have moved on to play at four-year schools. The Cougars added four Colorado players to the roster in Sparks, Zimmerman, Abriana Lujan of Highlands Ranch and Doherty’s Angela Vigil.

Sparks could stay at Western Nebraska for one season or two as larger schools track her progress and consider offering her a scholarship.

A number of other Lady Swoosh basketball players are headed to play collegiately, including Cherokee Trail grad Lily Hartley (Western State) and Eaglecrest grad Jamie Stoner (Nebraska Wesleyan).

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes