APTOS—There comes a time in an athlete’s career where opponents can turn into teammates. That’s the reality for many players on the Cabrillo Women’s basketball team right now.
With the majority of the team being composed of local talent, ranging from Aptos, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel, and Harbor high schools, the players quickly adapted to the new environment.
Seahawks freshman point guard Madison Stefanini is one of the nine players who is now teammates with former foes in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League.
“I have to figure out how to work with them and build new relationships,” Stefanini said.
Cabrillo coach John Wilson said there’s plenty of talent in Santa Cruz County, including Madison and her twin sister, Emma, who played four years at Aptos High. They won three Central Coast Section Division III titles in 2017, 2019 and 2020 during that span.
“Their [Madison and Emma] experience is very valuable to our program,” he said.
Madison has an average of 7.4 points per game and Emma is scoring 11.8 points per game in five games played this season.
“I know where [Madison] is sometimes, like I don’t even have to think,” Emma said. “I just know she’s gonna be there.”
Now she’s learning all new tendencies from her current teammates, which includes former Scotts Valley High standouts Ella Giguiere and Lauren Ambiel. But even in their high school careers, opponents turned into teammates though travel ball and it became easier for them to mesh well at Cabrillo.
Together, the players have come together under one team mentality: Productivity and more energy.
“It’s just a matter of putting it together,” Wilson said. “Having good chemistry, and that comes with playing together. Hopefully by the end of December, we’ll have it all put together.”
Giguiere said they’re really gonna try to step it up during practice.
“Just bring our energy more into practice because it really plays into how we play in our games,” she said. “More productive practices and getting us conditioned for the games.”
Giguiere has an average of 17.2 points per game in five games played. She had 21 points in an 80-36 victory against Palo Verde on Nov. 7.
Emma Stefanini added 15 points and Madison Stefanini scored 11 points for the Seahawks. Freshman guard Renee Parker of Soquel High also scored 13 points in Cabrillo’s lone win of the season.
“Renee was always on the team that was our rival team,” Emma said. “But we came here and we got really close really fast.”
Enrolling in Cabrillo has also been a chance to continue playing basketball while saving money in the long run. Madison said her original plan was to attend San Francisco State and then the Covid-19 happened.
“I don’t want to spend all that money, I’d rather just come here for way less money and play basketball,” she said.
Wilson added that Cabrillo is a great learning institution. Plus, it’s free for locals.
“There’s a lot of perks about taking your two years and coming,” he said. “And you still get to prolong your basketball career if that’s something you love to do.”
The Seahawks fell to a 1-5 overall record after a 78-49 loss to the City College of San Francisco in non-conference play on Tuesday. But, more help is on the way with some players slowly transitioning their way from the women’s volleyball season.
Cabrillo has a month of pre-season games scheduled before heading into Coast Conference action against De Anza on Jan. 5. Gavilan College dropped their program, leaving less games for conference play.
“The conference is gonna be competitive,” Wilson said. “We have the talent, especially once we get the numbers from the volleyball girls, that we will be able to compete for another conference title. Our preseason record is not gonna show that, because we’re playing against a lot of teams. When we start playing to our potential, a conference title is possible.”
Cabrillo at Foothill
When: Friday, 5pm