Nighthawks’ Wortley to play Division I basketball

Ironwood Ridge’s Casey Wortley will play for Division I basketball Iona College.

J.D. Fitzgerald/The Explorer

With a relentless work ethic and a smooth stroke from behind the three-point line, 6-foot-2 Casey Wortley, undoubtedly has caught the attention of basketball fans, players and coaches alike.  One coach in particular wasted no time in offering Wortley a spot on her Division I basketball team – an offer that Wortley happily accepted.

“I couldn’t control myself. I was crying,” said Wortley about her reaction after signing to play at Iona College in mid-November. “I was really happy, but my dream had finally come true and I finally realized that.”

Since day one, Wortley had a desire to play college basketball. She started playing in fourth grade for Oro Valley Hoops and her school’s team. Even at such a young age, Wortley spent an exorbitant amount of time practicing her game. Free time was often spent shooting on the hoop in her backyard or getting tips from her mom who was once a collegiate basketball player. 

Freshmen year, Wortley found herself playing on the junior varsity team at Ironwood Ridge High School. By her sophomore year, she took a step closer to playing at a higher level by contributing some playing time to the varsity team when they played in tournaments and playing for Tucson Shocks, a club team. For her junior and senior year Wortley found herself playing varsity. This year she has led her team in all statistical categories – with an average of 9.3 points per game, 1.3 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1.5 steals.

Numbers like these don’t come without a cost. Head coach of the Ironwood Ridge girl’s varsity team, Nikki Simpson, recounts a time during the summer when Wortley spent two hours shooting even after a morning of a conditioning and a two-hour team practice later that evening. 

“She brings a relentless work ethic to get better everyday,” said Simpson. “She has worked really hard to improve her all around game. She can take what she needs to get better at and work really hard to get better at it.”

The hard work has not only landed Wortley a position on a Division I college next year, but has helped her team to a 16-6 record. Even with some unexpected losses, the team currently has one of the best records in the northwest area for girl’s basketball. One of the keys to their wins is Wortley, who leads vocally and by her basketball skills.

“She is one of our captains and is definitely a vocal leader with a high basketball IQ,” said Simpson. “Her desire to win is probably her greatest asset and something that helps our team.”

Wortley is the first girl’s basketball player from Ironwood Ridge to sign with a Division I college. The Nighthawks will take on the Flowing Wells Caballeros (15-7), today, at 7:30 p.m. at Ironwood Ridge.

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