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To say Kierstin Constantino made it rain from deep this season would be an understatement. It was more like a flood. 

Her 146 made threes was more than anyone else in the nation not named Caitlin Clark. She broke school records for points in a single game when she dropped 52 against Cabrillo on Jan. 19. Her 654 total points also set a new benchmark in LPC hoops for most points in a season, helping her be named to the All-Coast Conference First-Team. She also became just the second player in LPC women’s basketball history to be named an All-American Honorable Mention by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, after Monique Cavness earned it last year. 

But plaques weren’t the only things she received from this season. She also earned an opportunity of a lifetime. From March 15-25, Constantino took a trip across the Pacific Ocean to play overseas in the Philippines. The tournament tested Constantino in ways the competition here at LPC simply couldn’t. Plenty of her teammates and opponents are players at four-year schools back in the U.S.  The faster-paced rules of the tournament, coupled with the higher level of competition pushed Constantino to become an even better player, as she looks to continue her rise in the collegiate basketball ranks.

For Constantino, this opportunity was more than just basketball. She was home for the first time. The tournament gave Constantino the chance to see where her family comes from. A chance to explore her roots. Her homeland.

“It was crazy to go back home,” Constantino said, “and see how we’re so lucky in America, how much stuff we have…It was definitely a culture shock… I actually read this quote when I was there, (it said) ‘keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there is so much to smile about’… that kind of hit me because of the way they are here, everyone is so happy.” 

PLAYING IN THE PHILIPPINES got Kierstin Constantino — the 3-point specialist for the Hawks — one step closer to her dream of playing for the national team. (Photo courtesy of Kierstin Constantino)

Constantino has fought her way to this stage. She wasn’t a highly recruited player coming out of Lathrop High School. After her first season of college ball, she even thought about quitting. 

“I honestly didn’t want to play anymore,” Constantino said. “It was so hard to find a school that fit me.”

Her freshman season was spent at Wenatchee Valley where she came off the bench, scoring less than four points a game. She needed a jolt. A true home where she could thrive and revive her love for the game. Luckily for her, Hawks coach Caleb Theodore helped make The Nest that home she had been looking for.

“I had recruited her out of high school,” Theodore said. “I saw her potential, I already knew what she was capable of, I just knew she needed that extra support to help get her where she wanted to go. And our coaching staff wanted to do everything we could to help.”

Under the guidance of Theodore, Constantino not only became a starter, but the Hawks leading scorer. Theodore didn’t just allow her to look for her own shot, but demanded it, wanting her to develop a true killer mentality. 

What followed was a three-point barrage that would last the whole season. Her Curry-esque approach to the game saw her climb from a single-digit scorer to averaging 26.2 points per game, good enough for first in the Conference and second in the entire State. While her perimeter show entertained the Hawks faithful fans, it also got the attention of eyes overseas.

In particular, Coach Jethro Julian, one of the coaches of the FIL-AM tournament. The tournament’s goal was to bring people of Filipino descent from all over the world to showcase their skills in their home country. Julian, who has been a part of the FIL-AM program for a few years, was made aware of Constantino by one of his players, Ariel De La O, who had played with Constantino in AAU. After watching her film and speaking with Theodore, he was convinced to add her shooting to his tournament group.  

It got Constantino one step closer to making one of her dreams a reality — playing basketball for the Philippines. While she wasn’t competing for the national team, she was playing in front of those coaches. Maybe someday she’ll have those coaches yelling out instructions rather than simply watching.

On top of that pressure to impress, there was also the faster pace to acclimate to.

“She adjusted really, really well,” Julian said. “It is more physical out there. The game is a lot faster…it was like an NBA pace game where you got to get in your sets a lot faster. She adjusted really well, just played through it and got better every game.”

Now, Constantino will look to take the experience, as a person and a player, to get ready for the next step. She is currently in talks with multiple four-year programs, including some DI programs according to Theodore.  

“She’s prepared,” Theodore said. “ You don’t recruit an All-American to sit on the bench… I’m happy for her, I’m very proud and I can’t wait to see what she does at the next level, because I know she’s gonna do great things.”

Top photo: In her sophomore season with the Hawks, Kierstin Constantino led all women community college players in 3-pointers. (Photo by Rickey Craig/ Special to The Express)

Jakob Arnarsson is the Sports Editor of The Express. Follow him on X, formally Twitter, @JakobA2004.

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