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Shipley: 'Happy where I've ended up'

Despite her team's recent struggles and not meeting her own lofty expectations, former Tucumcari High School girls basketball star Ashley Shipley holds no regrets in playing what may be her final season at Eastern New Mexico University.

The Greyhounds (5-9) had been a seven-game losing streak under first-year coach Blake Huber until a 65-61 victory Saturday over Midwestern State. Shipley, a senior, attributed several things to the recent skid during a telephone interview last week.

"We have a new head coach, so it's a whole different system, with a whole bunch of new players getting together that haven't had a lot of time to build chemistry," she said.

"And we're getting hit with injuries left and right, and our numbers are down. A little under half of our team is injured."

Shipley, a 5-foot-7 guard who averaged 11.4 points per game last season, has stayed healthy so far but seen that point production drop to 5.4 points per game this season.

She attributed that to having a different role on team and her coach's system, "trying to figure out where I really belong in it."

"I have to be more aggressive in finding my shots and not be passive. The more aggressive I get, the better I'll be," she added.

But Shipley was optimistic she and her teammates could turn things around.

"We've got to keep fighting and get through this adversity. All that adversity makes us stronger," she said.

Huber stated in an email he appreciates Shipley's contribution to the team.

"Ashley is a really good floor spacer for us and shoots the three at a very good clip," he stated. "We don't shoot the three incredibly well, so the fact she can knock down open threes is huge for us and our program. We are glad she is apart of our program and rebuild."

Shipley, a physical education major, is scheduled to graduate in December 2024, though she still has an extra year of eligibility remaining if she wants it. The National Collegiate Athletic Association compensated athletes an extra year after sports were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shipley said she'll make that decision later.

"Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy the moment and see where things go by the end of the season. By then, I should have my mind made up," she said.

At Tucumcari, Shipley was one of the most dynamic players in Lady Rattler history. She was an all-state selection three times and helped her team win four district titles. Scoring well over 1,000 points in her career, she averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game during her senior year. Shipley also was the valedictorian of her class.

Shipley spent two seasons at Texas A&M-Commerce before heading to Portales.

She admits the college game is much faster than high school. She acknowledged one other big difference.

"In New Mexico, you didn't play against a lot of height," she said. "There's a lot more length, a lot more tall players. I was not used to that."

After her college career ends, Shipley said she wants to be a physical education teacher and coach basketball. She said she has no preference of where.

"Wherever I land is where I land. I just want to make an impact on kids and make a difference," she said.

Shipley said a "complicated" experience during her stint at Texas A&M-Commerce led her down the path to likely being a future coach.

"We were winning at Commerce, but there were a lot of things going on behind closed doors that made things not enjoyable there," she said, declining to elaborate.

"When I first got to college, I wanted to be a physical therapist," she added. "At Commerce, I had a lot of experience in losing my love for the game. I thought, 'I don't want a kid to ever go through this.' I took it into my own hands and said, 'I'm going to become a coach and make the game better for these young athletes so they don't have to experience that.'"

Shipley also admitted she didn't like being so far from Tucumcari. So she took a chance and decided to transfer to ENMU.

"Transferring is definitely scary," she said. "You never know if you're making the right choice or not. But I'm really happy where I've ended up.

"I've honestly loved it here. I've had a lot of support from the community and from Tucumcari. There's this group that's called the Basketball Moms. They feed us after games, ask us how we're doing, check in with us. I really appreciate that here."

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