Bales a good fit for Duke

Brittany Hunter committed to Duke. Alison Bales was undecided. Both Ohio natives were McDonald's All-Americans and had faced off several times in high school. Both girls could write their own ticket to college and go where ever they would like. Ironically they both wound up at Duke.

For Alison Bales, it was Duke's academics that initially attracted her to Duke, coupled with the fact that Duke had been a Top 5 team nationally for the past several years. On her official visit to Duke, during the Men's Blue/White game in the Fall of 2002, Bales spent the weekend with the team and Brittany Hunter who was also on her official visit to Duke that weekend and liked what she saw.

Several months later, Alison's Beavercreek High School team would squeak past Brittany Hunter's Brookhaven team in the State of Ohio Semi-Finals. "I played against Brittany three times in high school and in AAU ball all the time", explained the 6'7 Bales. "We knew each other, but we were not close friends or anything at that time. When she committed to Duke, I called her and asked her how she would feel about me going to Duke as well. She liked the idea of being my teammate."

When the dust cleared in Ohio and Hunter and Bales had graduated from high school, the two girls who reside an hour apart in Ohio from Columbus and Dayton respectively made up 100% of Duke Coach Gail Goestenkors recruiting class for the year.

When they arrived at Duke in the Summer of 2003 to begin summer school, the two were inseparable it appeared. They could often be found in Cameron Indoor Stadium in the wee hours of the night playing basketball. When asked about playing basketball at such late hours of the night, both girls would smile and say they had not had their "fix for the day yet and needed to get it." They were also frequently observed at Coach K's Basketball Camp just enjoying the view and watching pick up games in the evening when the Duke Men's team would play.

Unfortunately, injuries have been a theme of sorts for the Blue Devils in the early going of the season and Alison Bales has been no stranger to the injury bug. Alison Bales has had two knee surgeries. The first was to repair her meniscus and the second one, which occurred at Duke just prior to this season, was to remove it. The second surgery caused Bales to miss a few early season games, including the season opening loss to Texas in West Lafayette, Indiana, a game Bales family attended.

One thing that Bales has going for her is that her mother Mary is a trauma surgeon. "Every time our team doctor checks my knee, he always calls my mom to give her an update" explained Bales.

After seeing action in a blowout of Stephen F. Austin for the first time in the Duke Women's Classic on November 29, Goestenkors called on Bales to come in late in the first half in a tight match up with Auburn. In 8 minutes of play, she scored a basket, pulled down a rebound and took a very big charge that gave Duke a huge momentum swing.

"In the first half I was really nervous because I had not played (in a game) since April and it was really loud in Cameron. It was a big college game and everything, but I was also determined. Playing against my teammates in practice is tougher than anything so it helps prepare me for games." explained Bales.

Bales was held out of action against Tulsa on December 14 after re-aggravating her knee in practice, but returned to action December 20 at Northwestern State where she scored 5 points and pulled down 9 rebounds.

When it comes to practicing, Bales frequently matches up against Iciss Tillis, Mistie Bass or Brittany Hunter. However Bales went on to add that "matching up against our male practice players is excellent preparation as well, they are all great guys and push us hard in practice."

A quiet girl with a big heart, Bales has found doing the charity work the Duke women's team has been involved in over Christmas break very rewarding.

"We have gone to the Duke Children's Hospital and visited with kids, Tuesday we wrapped presents for Christmas for Durham families and delivered them and today we are going to the Ronald McDonald House after practice. It is awesome to go with your team to meet kids and sign posters and hang out with them."

When asked about what she has taken away from the experience, the caring Bales states that "It puts everything in perspective" and goes on to mention a girl named Leah who is hospitalized at Duke and is a fan of the program.

"Leah is a little girl who is a huge Duke fan who is suffering from cancer, she is real special to all of us. Leah has been out to eat with us a few times and we see her at the hospital when we are there. She is a real nice girl, a lot of fun and very special to us."

Bales cites a "team effort" when asked how the Blue Devils got involved in charity work and is also quick to point out the former Duke player Sheana Mosch, now an employee at Duke Hospital, has been instrumental in helping the team make visiting arrangements.

A lover of basketball in general, Bales seldomly misses a Men's home game in person and can often be seen sitting behind the basket at Cameron with fellow teammates Brittany Hunter and Dana Morgan.

"It is really neat when you get to meet different people involved with basketball and you get to see them play. It is neat to hang out with our Men's team off the court, and then watch their games and then see them on ESPN." stated Bales.

If you talk to any member of the Duke Women's basketball team, the underlying goal is obvious. They want to win a National Championship. You will not hear about individual player goals, statistics, or playing time. You will simply hear about a team who wants one thing only: college basketballs holy grail.

"Every player has an individual role, but all of our goals revolve around carrying out our jobs on the floor together to win the National Championship, that is what we all want."

There is no question this Duke team is capable of fulfilling their goal, and clearly Alison Bales can help them do that!

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