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Donnelly still playing ball
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Sooner or later, Shannon Donnelly is going to have to end her basketball career. The Ceres High/Cal State Stanislaus grad is hoping for the latter.

"I've been playing since I was 10," said Donnelly, while taking a break from refereeing a high school girls summer league basketball game in the Blaker-Kinser Jr. High gymnasium on June 9. "As long as my legs can take it, I'll keep on playing."

Donnelly has suited up for several professional teams overseas since graduating from college. She spent parts of two seasons with Ullern in Oslo, Norway. Donnelly led the club to a second-place finish at the Norwegian Basketball Association Championships in 2003-04. She averaged 36.3 points, 15 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 12 games. Donnelly shot 63 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line.

In August of 2003, Donnelly signed a 10-month contract with BC Mess in Luxembourg, Europe. She was released after just three weeks despite leading the team to three victories. Donnelly averaged 30 points per game. She had 40 points, 17 rebounds and seven steals in her debut and scored 25 points in each of her last two games.

In May, Donnelly tried out for the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs. She worked out with general manager and head coach John Whisenant and assistant coach Monique Albers for 90 minutes at the team's $9.1-million, 38,500-square foot practice facility. Donnelly demonstrated her shooting and ball-handling skills.

"They said I was good enough to play but they had too many players on the team," Donnelly said.

Donnelly plans to try out for the San Jose Spiders of the National Women's Basketball League this fall.

The NWBL is a six-team league that features more than 25 active WNBA players. Other teams in the league include the Birmingham Power, Dallas Fury, Chicago Blaze and Lubbock Hawks. The season starts in January and ends in April.

If Donnelly makes the team, the exposure could lead to a try out with another WNBA team.

"If there's no opportunities right now, I need to get a real job," Donnelly said. "I got to grow up someday."

Donnelly obtained a bachelor's degree in physical education from Stanislaus. In August, she'll start working towards a teaching credential at Chapman University.

"I want to teach elementary or high school P.E.," Donnelly said. "I'm also interested in coaching."

Donnelly was a three-time All-American selection and four-time All-Region player at Stanislaus. She averaged 20.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game en route to leading the Warriors to their first appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 12 years in 2002-03. In four seasons, Donnelly averaged 19.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and shot 52.7 percent from the field. She holds nearly every offensive record.

Donnelly was the first Stanislaus basketball player, male or female, to surpass the 2,000-point mark. Her No. 35 jersey was retired and put on display in the Warrior Arena in December 2003.

Donnelly had a stellar career at Ceres High, where she was a member of the varsity girls basketball squad for three years. The two-time, league MVP led the Bulldogs to a Central California Conference championship, section finals appearance and NorCal playoff appearance in 1998-99.

Not bad for a player that failed to make the "A" team in junior high. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier