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Originally published April 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 15, 2007 at 9:34 AM

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Kentlake's Carly Stowell collapses, dies on basketball trip

Sunny and armed with a confidence that rose from behind a seeming bundle of nerves, Carly Stowell excelled both on the basketball court...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunny and armed with a confidence that rose from behind a seeming bundle of nerves, Carly Stowell excelled both on the basketball court and in life, illuminating the world of those around her.

Stowell, 14, died suddenly Thursday in Raleigh, N.C., where according to Hoopgurlz.com, she was prepared to compete in the Deep South Classic for the Seattle-based Emerald City Legends 15U club team. She would have been 15 this week.

According to the Seattle-based Web site, which covers girls' basketball on a national level, the rising hoops star collapsed at the team hotel near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and was unable to be resuscitated by her mother, Elena, or paramedics who arrived at the scene.

As a freshman point guard at Kentlake High School, Carly Stowell joined a squad that had started five seniors the year before and, along with fellow freshman Morganne Comstock, earned co-MVP honors while leading the Falcons to the 2007 Class 4A tournament.

"By the end of the season, she had taken control," says Kentlake coach Scott Simmons. "To be honest, we wouldn't have gotten to the state tournament if it wasn't for her."

In addition, Simmons says, Stowell and Comstock earned South Puget Sound League second-team honors. Her teammates are caught between "absolute shock and heartbrokenness. It's going to take us awhile to get over this."

In Raleigh, several of Stowell's Emerald City teammates — Comstock, Cody Sisco and Riley Butler — are also Kentlake students, and opted to continue playing in Stowell's absence.

"They decided as a team they wanted to stay, that that's what Carly would have wanted, and they've gone 3-0," Simmons says.

They play in the finals against Indiana's Finest Black today.

Simmons says Stowell could often come across as uneasy until she stepped onto the court.

"It's like that's her comfort spot," he says. "She played much older than a 14-year-old girl. Our future looked very bright for the next three years."

In addition to basketball, Stowell also played several musical instruments and was a member of the Kentlake jazz band, led by her father, Chuck Stowell.

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Deep South tournament director Michael White said Stowell's death sent ripples through the tournament.

"I mean, everybody was simply stunned. I still can't believe it," said White, noting the competition is the largest spring "evaluation tournament" for girls basketball standouts in the country. This year, 288 teams competed.

Stowell's name, White said, was being mentioned among the dozens of college basketball coaches who attend the tournaments.

"It was my understanding that she was about to be put on the map," he said. "She was a very gifted athlete. This is all just tragically sad."

Friday evening, more than a hundred students and staff attended a candlelight vigil at Kentlake, remembering a girl who counted among her favorite songs "Over My Head (Cable Car)," by the Fray.

"She always liked to think of herself as being over her head," Simmons says. "Then she would just come out and shine. Just like a bright beam of light."

Marc Ramirez: 206-464-8102 or mramirez@seattletimes.com.

Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter contributed to this story.

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