The three of them briefly considered the possibility, flirting with the idea of staying together for college basketball and continuing the magic that connected talent from both...

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The three of them briefly considered the possibility, flirting with the idea of staying together for college basketball and continuing the magic that connected talent from both sides of this state.


Back then, Teresa Borton manned the interior and Kayla Burt and Kristen O’Neill filled the wings. They played together on the Yakima Elite AAU team, connecting East and West, winning the elite Oregon City Tournament and placing high in several others.


“We were the bomb,” Burt said. “I’ll remember that team for a long time.”


They came from nowhere, this overlooked and underrated collection of Washington-bred talent from both sides of the mountains, and soon enough college coaches filled the stands. Washington coaches. Notre Dame coaches. Stanford coaches.


“I loved watching them,” UW coach June Daugherty said, “because they played so well together.”


So where did the three end up?


Not together, it turns out. Burt and O’Neill decided to stay home, to join the Washington women’s basketball team and take it places it never went before. Borton, a Yakima native, decided to go east, landing at Notre Dame, O’Neill’s second choice.

















JIM BATES / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Kayla Burt and the Huskies take on an old teammate, Teresa Borton.
Full circle comes today when the old friends meet again, this time from opposing benches, with Washington taking on No. 7 Notre Dame at 9 a.m. in South Bend, Ind.


“I guess we’re reuniting,” Burt said.


The Huskies embarked on a quick tour of the famed Notre Dame campus yesterday morning, taking in Touchdown Jesus and visiting the church.


They’ll need all the prayers they can get for a four-game stretch that starts today, a vicious slate that features three ranked teams, including No. 6 Baylor and No. 24 Arizona.


“We’re not exactly playing Little Sisters of the Poor here,” assistant coach Mike Daugherty quipped.


The walk gave O’Neill and Burt a chance to reflect on the years since they committed. Both did not play last season — Burt because of a heart condition, O’Neill because of a stress fracture. Meanwhile, Borton enters this reunion without having missed a college game.


The 6-foot-3 Borton and her teammates present big problems for the Huskies, a small group that includes only three posts. Although June Daugherty sees the Huskies’ early problem — offense — starting to clear up, other problems are cropping up.


The Huskies’ defense lapsed in a loss at Utah, and they nearly blew a big lead at Denver down the stretch.

















Teresa Borton hasn’t missed a game at Notre Dame.
Beyond studying for finals that start next week, the Huskies also are going back to basics, back to the athleticism and depth that create matchup problems for opponents.


“We’ve been trying to pick up our defense,” Burt said. “That’s what’s keeping us in games. Our offense has been slow. Our defense is what we have to our advantage. We have to use that.”


Daugherty will start Cameo Hicks at guard for the third consecutive game. Hicks replaced freshman Emily Florence because she can post up and play outside, allowing O’Neill to shift to point guard and giving the Huskies a taller lineup.


Without a senior on the roster, UW struggles on the road, where it holds a 1-2 record this season. But O’Neill doesn’t think Borton or that No. 7 ranking will intimidate the Huskies.


“We’ll see,” she said. “We didn’t back down against (ranked) Minnesota. I don’t think we’ll back down against Notre Dame.”


Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or gbishop@seattletimes.com