“I had a great home life to help me work hard, always get better at the game I love, and eventually became one of the best,” she said. “I had great coaches and great schools, too.”
Millville native Cornwall will be honored at the Albert Carino Basketball Clubs of South Jersey 2004 Hall of Fame induction dinner this Sunday, February 4.
The clubs (there are a girls and a boys) have been a fixture of high school basketball in South Jersey for 62 years. There are 36 member schools that benefit from the club’s publicity, financial support, and giving public recognition to players.
At Sacred Heart High School in Vineland, under legendary coach Steve DiPatri, Cornwall (Ashley Durham before marriage), became the only female basketball player in Cumberland County history to score more than 2,000 points in a high school career. She graduated in 2009.
As a junior, Cornwall averaged 26 points a game and was named All-State third team. In both her junior and senior years, she was first team All-South Jersey. She won the All-Parochial award from the Carino Club, The Press of Atlantic City, Courier Post, and Daily Journal. She was also selected for the Cape-Atlantic League All-Star Game.
On her way to high school fame, Cornwall played for a regional Millville Schools travel team as an 8th grader. That team is notable for two reasons.
First, it was a boys team. She was the first girl to ever play on the team. She was supported by the league in her unique status. “After my tryout, they said we’re definitely calling the league officials about this one,” she recalled.
Second, Mike Trout was her teammate.
“He was great, of course, it was pretty cool,” Cornwall said.
For the person reading this who doesn’t know, Trout gave up basketball to become one of the best players in Major League baseball.
Cornwall was offered full scholarships by many colleges and chose Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, where she became just the 20th player in the school’s history to join the 1,000-point club. She still holds the school record, both men’s and women’s, for her incredible career free throw average of 83.7 percent.
She chose NCAA Division I Canisius over all the others because of the close-knit feel of the campus and, yes, the support given to student athletes. She said Canisius helped players be as good as they could be in the classroom.
“College isn’t just the basketball,” she said. “You have to be a student, too, and I liked how they ran it.” During the 2012-13 season, she was the first Canisius player ever to be named to the 1st Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
She was head coach of women’s basketball for the Cumberland County College Dukes (now Rowan College of South Jersey-Cumberland Dukes) and was the trainer for The Tar Heels Basketball Club, a South Jersey based AAU program.
Cornwall has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is a detective with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. She is married to Dowon Cornwall, and they have three children: Ny’Asia, Dominic, and Aaliyah.
The Carino Hall of Fame recognition is something Cornwall hoped for but was far from sure about.
“With Sacred Heart closing and all, I wasn’t sure what would happen,” she said. But this is such an honor, I’m so thankful, and I appreciate their support very much.” (Sacred Heart was closed by the diocese in 2013.)
The Carino Hall of Fame event will be held at the Holiday Inn on Route 70 in Cherry Hill starting at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and they may be secured with a check, credit card or Venmo by contacting Bob Byatt, 1021 Merrymount North Ave., Turnersville, NJ 08012, Telephone: 856-889-1850, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets will not be sold the night of the event.