WATSONVILLE—St. Francis High athletic director and girls basketball coach Adam Hazel wasn’t sure if the Sharks were going to get another chance to play this season, especially after he was uncertain who was playing and who was opting out of the Central Coast Section postseason.
“I didn’t really know what to expect and I was hoping we’d get in,” he said. “Wherever we were slotted we were going to be happy and we’d go from there.”
The Sharks earned the No. 2 seed in the Division V bracket, and they will square off against No. 3 Summit Shasta on June 10 at 7pm.
Hazel said he doesn’t have a large scouting report on this year’s Black Bears, but he did manage to dig up some old film of them playing against an opponent that they played two years ago.
Summit Shasta finished 10-3 overall and 7-0 in the Private School-North Division. Freshman Alexis Cornejo leads the Black Bears with averages of 9.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.
Summit Shasta also has sophomore Kamille Cayas, who is averaging 8.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game this season. They have a young and deep roster that can put up points.
“They’re well coached, they play really hard and they’re going to give us everything that they’ve got,” he said. “We’re going to have to play our best to beat them.”
The Sharks finished 7-3 and 7-1 in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play. They’re lone loss in league play was against champion San Lorenzo Valley High.
Prior to that, they had to transition into a new league for a season after the Pacific Coast Athletic League announced it would not have a sports season this year.
Hazel said people told him he was too optimistic and confident that they were going to play any sports this year, especially the CCS playoffs. However, he was still pretty certain that they’d get the chance to at least play football, baseball, softball and outdoor volleyball.
“I just believe one way or another it was going to happen,” he said. “I just kept being positive and thankfully all our sports were able to be played.”
Hazel said the confidence level grew for a basketball season once spring hit and the number of Covid-19 cases continued to dwindle.
They were lined up at a chance for redemption against the Cougars in the SCCAL Tournament, but that never happened due to Covid-19 restrictions. St. Francis was ordered to quarantine for 14 days for the second time in this season.
“It was a real bummer for us not being able to compete for a division championship at the end there,” he said. “It’s been quite a whirlwind.”
St. Francis also began the season with a small roster and played most of its games with just five players available. Hazel said it was great for him because he knew there would be no complaints for playing time or worry about rotations.
“We got five, that’s all we need so let’s go play,” he said.
Mariah Lyle, the team’s lone senior, was limited to just three games after she was sidelined with an injury. Hazel said she still had a huge impact as a great leader.
“That was her best way to contribute to the team,” he said.
Natalia Soto, a junior, played well throughout the season, and was one of those players that did what the coaches asked her to do, Hazel said. She was also great in the leadership role and played outstanding defense, Hazel added.
St. Francis sophomore Isabella Sumano took over the point guard position. She averaged 12.4 points per game this season.
Hazel said that opponents like to press them and she did a good job breaking it.
Taylor Fisher, a sophomore, averaged 10.3 points per game and was also a stalwart on the defensive side.
Although there might be concern about some rust developing during the long pause between games, Hazel said every team in the section will go through the same deal, which makes it a level playing field.
“Pretty much everyone is going to be in that boat,” he said.
The last time St. Francis played was against Kirby Prep on May 19, and Hazel already has the girls back in the gym practicing this week. He said they’re just excited to be able to get back on the court for at least one last time this season.
“The kids are just happy to be around each other and playing,” he said.
Aptos High earned the No. 3 seed in the Division III bracket and will host No. 6 Sobrato High on June 8 at 7pm. Juniors Jasmine Ackerman and Jaylen Dang have been stars for the Mariners.
Ackerman averaged a double-double with 15.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game; while Dang scored an average of 15.1 points per game this season.
The winner of that game will take on the winner of No. 2 Soquel High (11-7) and No. 7 North Monterey County (4-5) in the semifinals slated for June 10.
Santa Cruz High (16-1) earned the top seed, and it will host No. 8 Del Mar (4-10) on June 8 at 4pm.
Monte Vista Christian (6-10) was awarded the No. 7 seed in the Division IV bracket and will host No. 10 Latino College Prep (6-2) on Saturday at 10am.
Senior Mackenzie Tellez and juniors Marissa Cortes and Paloma Ramirez lead the Mustangs. The winner will face No. 2 Notre Dame-Belmont (7-5) on June 8 at 7pm.
San Lorenzo Valley (8-2) earned the No. 8 seed and will square off against No. 9 Mercy-Burlingame (3-6).
The Cougars are coming off a title run after they won the SCCAL Tournament “B” Division championship against Pajaro Valley.
Watsonville will go in as the “wild card” in the Division I playoffs. The Wildcatz will square off against No. 10 Los Gatos at Saratoga High School today at 7pm. Seniors Karlos Corpus and Donovan Mendoza have paced Watsonville this season.
Aptos earned the No. 7 seed in the Division III bracket and it will host No. 10 Sobrato High on Saturday at 7pm.
Seniors Anwar Ayyad and JoJoe Moreno, along with junior Cameron Saldona, have played well for the The Mariners (6-5) this season.
Ayyad averaged 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game this season. Moreno, the league’s reigning MVP, averaged 10.9 points and 2.4 assists; while Saldona averaged 9.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game this season.
North Monterey County (9-2) earned the No. 6 seed and it will host No. 11 El Camino (5-3) on Saturday at 7pm.
Monte Vista Christian earned the No. 8 seed in the Division IV bracket. The Mustangs (6-10) will host No. 9 Harker (4-10) on Saturday at 1:30pm.
The winner will play at top seed Sacred Heart Prep (12-7) on Tuesday at 7pm.
Other local notable matchups include No. 5 San Lorenzo Valley (13-2) at No. 4 Scotts Valley (9-8) on June 8 at 7pm.
The Cougars are coming off a title run after they won the SCCAL Tournament “B” Division championship against Pacific Collegiate School.