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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL California player dead of meningitis

Friday, January 23, 2004

Alisa Lewis, a junior from Spokane, Wash., died of bacterial meningitis.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Alisa Lewis, a reserve on the University of California women's basketball team, died Monday morning after apparently contracting bacterial meningitis.
Lewis, a junior from Spokane, Wash., died after being taken to the emergency room early Monday morning with a severe headache, rash and flu-like symptoms, the university said. She was 20.
"Our hearts go out to Alisa's family following this horrible, devastating news," coach Caren Horstmeyer said. "Alisa was one of the nicest, hardest-working players I've had the opportunity to coach. We're all in a complete state of shock."
A team spokeswoman said Monday that doctors believe Lewis probably died from bacterial meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord which spreads through saliva and mucus.
Notified authorities
University officials have notified local public health authorities about Lewis' apparent case of the disease, which won't be confirmed until further tests are done. Her teammates and some staff were given a precautionary treatment of antibiotics.
Lewis played in 10 of the Golden Bears' 16 games this season, averaging 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. She started six games during her first two years at Cal.
"Alisa was one of the nicest, hardest-working players I've had the opportunity to coach," Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer said in a written statement. "We're all in a complete state of shock."
She played three seasons of high school basketball in Fairfield, Calif., before attending Gonzaga Prep in Spokane for her senior season.
Saw her last month
Mike Arte, who coached Lewis at Prep, remembers her as one of the team's hardest workers. He saw Lewis last month when she was home for Christmas and attended a game.
"I had the chance to know her only one year," Arte told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Spokane on Monday evening. "She was just a tremendous young lady, very polite and hard working. She was fun to be around. She had come here from a different culture and world, California, as far as Spokane kids are concerned, and it was good for our girls to see.
Arte recalled that "Cal was her dream school." Lewis was close to signing with hometown Gonzaga University until Cal offered her a scholarship at the "11th hour," Arte said.
"She would just work her tail off," he said. "I'm shocked how that happened."
University officials said they had not yet decided whether other practices or games would be canceled. The team is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles this week for a game Friday against USC and Sunday at UCLA.