Maybe it started in how the team grieved together over the death of Madelyn Birchall's mother.
The bond may have further tightened with how they wore gray socks in memory of the death of Briona Fontenot's grandmother last week at Las Positas.
The Modesto Junior College women's basketball team is responding to adversity human-drama adversity.
Because of it, the Pirates have gotten stronger. Much stronger.
"There's been so much stuff going on. We're a family," sophomore guard Camille Roberts said. "We're here for each other and to push each other."
MJC has rallied around the family losses of Birchall and Fontenot, two ingredients to their early success, and have rolled through the early season.
The Pirates strafed Reedley for 20 unanswered points during the first half of Tuesday night's impressive 92-42 non-league win at MJC Gym.
The 92 points were the most by an MJC team in several years. More important, the Pirates (6-1) are playing with noteworthy chemistry.
Which comes only from an honest unity. All but one of the 13 Pirates scored against the Tigers (2-4).
"There are no individuals on the team. It's all of us together," said Birchall, the 5-foot-10 Hughson High graduate who's home again after a year at Southern Virginia University. "Briona and myself have the support of our teammates. We've all been there for each other."
Birchall and Jode Johnson, the latter a Ceres product who transferred from William Jessup, have deepened a balanced lineup. So has the return of Roberts, the point guard whose midseason knee injury all but scuttled MJC hopes last season.
The Pirates' home opener displayed a confident team after its 57-44 upset win over San Joaquin Delta in the finals of the Las Positas tournament.
Modesto attacks this season with a new motion offense and a clinging man-to-man defense. Assistant coach Dennis Hobby, who coached Birchall at Hughson, has preached intensity.
Reedley connected on a trio of 3-pointers and was tied 19-19 before MJC's relentless defense quickened the tempo.
A layup and triple by Fontenot (16 points) launched the game-breaking rally, and Lexy Posz (14 points), Birchall (10 points), Roberts (10 points) and Johnson (10 points) sustained the momentum. Center Jamie Beck (9 points, 3 blocks) denied Reedley in the key.
Fontenot, in addition to her family tragedy, had missed the previous four games due to a concussion. MJC clearly fed off being together again.
"We were a little excited in our first home game," coach Mike Girardi said. "I like the way we look for each other."
A promising harbinger.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at (209) 578-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org/b.