Modesto Christian’s girls basketball team will attempt to bring home the first state championship in the program’s storied history today when it takes on Santa Barbara High School for the CIF Division 3 title at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.
Twice before the Crusaders have come within a couple of buckets of winning it all.
In 2002, Modesto Christian fell 53-49 to La Jolla Country Day, which just happens to be back this year, playing for the Division 5 crown in today’s 10 a.m. game.
In 2009, the Crusaders were defeated 54-51 by Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista), which made another deep playoff run this year before falling to eventual D4 SoCal champ Sierra Canyon in the semis.
If the third time is going to be the charm for MC, perhaps the players on this year’s team can benefit from the experiences of players on the ’02 and ’09 squads. Here’s what they had to say:
• Courtney Paris, a freshman on the 2002 team and current member of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock:
“I would tell them to just enjoy it. Obviously, leave it all on the court and try to win, but mostly remember to enjoy it.”
• Tracy Cole, a sophomore on the 2002 team and currently a nanny in the Bay Area:
“I would tell them to trust each other and play like it’s just another game. Don’t think of it as state, but just another game with the teammates that you love.
“Play like it’s your last game. You won’t forget it whether you win or lose.
“Hopefully, it’s a great memory.”
• Stefani Agostini, a senior on the 2009 team who now serves as coach Robb Spencer’s assistant:
“Just try to stick to your normal routine and enjoy the game.
“This is the deepest team I’ve ever seen here at MC and Robb’s had teams with All-Americans playing for him.
“It’s been a crazy year, watching this team that was always been missing a piece, to finally see it all come together and see how talented it is … it’s amazing.”
• Lauren (Lucchesi) Watts, a senior on the 2009 team who works for Top Notch Kennels in Modesto:
“We played there (Sleep Train) for sections and had a feel of the court, so I knew what I was getting into, but I was nervous. It’s really different playing there; it’s always kind of an adjustment. The rims are different, the lighting is different, it’s way bigger than a high school gym where there’s, basically, a wall behind the backboard. Seeing people behind the backboard when you’re shooting a free throws – that’s completely different.
“My advice would be, number one, work hard every play of the game because you never know what’s going to happen. But also have fun because you’re going to remember this for the rest of your life.
“I just want to wish them good luck and I hope it turns out good for them and for Robb.”