These moments don’t come along too often.
The Aptos girls basketball team knows this.
“This could be a pretty special season,” said Mariners senior guard Hannah Hocom. “I think all of us are excited for what we could become.”
With 10 players back, including four starters, from last year’s regional quarterfinalist team, Aptos knows this could be the year the program does something it has not since the 1982-83 season: play for a California Interscholastic Federation Northern California championship.
“We have the potential to go as far as we want to, as long as we stay strong and keep looking at the next game one at a time,” said Aptos junior point guard Gabby Giuffre. “We want to put up another one of those,” she said pointing up to the NorCal banner in the rafters of the school’s gym, “but we have a long way to go until that time comes.”
Aptos, ranked 35th in the state by maxpreps.com as of Thursday afternoon, isn’t the only team around the area that is determined to accomplish some history this winter.
In Watsonville, Pajaro Valley has hopes of winning the program’s first-ever league title. The Grizzlies have never finished higher than fifth in their 13 seasons as a varsity program. Star senior guards Jayleen Solorzano and Michelle Ibarra want to change that, and the recent league restructuring has given them a chance to reach their goal.
Pajaro Valley joined 32 other schools in the Pacific Coast Athletic League — a five-tiered equity league made up of the past members of the Monterey Bay League and Mission Trail Athletic League. The Grizzlies will be in the fourth-toughest division, the Santa Lucia, this season.
“We can never get over confident,” Solorzano said. “We can’t go based upon the past. We have to work hard and play our hardest all the time. We’ll see. It’ll be fun.”