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USA Basketball opportunity awaits Winner's Swedlund

Winner's Bella Swedlund backs down Aberdeen Roncalli's Megan Streier (3) at the State A girls basketball tournament this past season in Sioux Falls. (Nick Sabato / Republic)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Bella Swedlund is representing South Dakota and has a chance to represent the United States.

The Winner High School standout will compete for a spot on the 2019 USA Basketball Women's Under-16 National Team at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The trials began on Thursday and will continue until Monday, May 27.

The complete trials roster includes 152 athletes. It includes 33 participants who were invited by the USA Basketball Women's Development National Team Committee and 119 who were accepted as applicant athletes.

Swedlund is one of the 119 players who were accepted via the application process. She's the lone South Dakotan vying for a spot and said she will relish playing in that competitive environment.

"I feel like I am more of a person that feeds off adrenaline," Swedlund said. "So I think once I find my groove, it's just going to click and you just have to have confidence."

Swedlund also qualified for the state track and field meet in the shot put and discus this weekend, but couldn't pass up the "once in a lifetime," opportunity to compete at the USA Trials.

"I know I have to take this opportunity and do what I do," Swedlund said.

The finalists announced on May 27 will remain in Colorado Springs for training camp through May 31, when the official 12-member USA roster is expected to be announced. The selected team members will return for training camp June 5-13, and the 2019 U16 FIBA Americas Championship will be played June 16-22 in Chile.

Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 2003. Fifty-two athletes are from the high school class of 2021, 74 will graduate high school in 2022 and 26 are members of the high school class of 2023. Swedlund is set to graduate in 2022.

Trials sessions will include individual skills, 3-on-3 tournament play and scrimmages. Applicant athletes and invitation athletes will participate together in the same trials sessions.

"I think there is going to be a lot of skills and drills and of course, a lot of scrimmaging," Swedlund said. "But I also think they are going to do film stuff and teach us how to pay attention and stuff you would learn in college basketball, of course."

Swedlund plays summer basketball for the South Dakota Attack, which has or will play at tournaments in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois this summer. An all-state selection, Swedlund helped the Warriors win the Class A state championship this past season. She averaged 16.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the 24-0 Warriors.

Swedlund, who will be a sophomore this fall, has yet to receive an official college offer to play basketball. But she expects the action to heat up after attending more tournaments this summer and of course this weekend's USA Basketball Trials.

"I think it's really great exposure for myself," Swedlund said. "The Attack does a lot for me and I just think this is really going to top it off."

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