Small Holy Cross Girls Basketball Team Earns Big Spot at State Championship
Santa Cruz, Calif., Jan. 12 , 2015 — Holy Cross School’s 8th grade girls basketball team is small with only six players, but they finished a big season with an undefeated 27-0 record. After upsetting Bret Harte in the finals of the Willow Glen Holiday Hoops Tournament in December, Holy Cross has now earned an automatic bid to the NorCal Middle School Basketball Championship in Santa Rosa on March 7 - 8, 2015.
The 2nd annual NorCal Middle School Basketball Championship is sponsored by the Northwest Middle School Basketball Association. The tournament features the top teams in the region and offers teams a chance to compete against teams from all over the state.
“These girls are special,” said Coach Paul Brown of his team which finished 12-0 in league play while going up against much bigger schools in Santa Cruz county. “They make me proud everyday. Since we only have six players, our girls have to play the majority of the game without a break, no breathers and very little substitutions. They do it and never complain. They do it as a family.”
Holy Cross School is normally dwarfed in athletics due to its small size and often play against teams with 12 to 15 players. The team includes: Haley Jones, Morgan Larkin, Janessa Yniguez, Katie Gilligan, Mia Locatelli, Whittaker Miller and Kajsa Johnson.
“Not only are they all tremendous basketball players but they are great students,” said Brown. “They embody exactly what Holy Cross is about and truly adhere to the values we teach.”
These remarkable athletes work hard in the classroom and on the court while helping their community by raising money for the homeless center, cancer research and women's medical care.
“I am a lucky teacher and coach, I am just glad I could be apart of something so special,” said Coach Brown
Holy Cross Girls Basketball: Player Profiles
-Haley Jones, point guard. Haley won the "Tournament MVP," in every tournament played this year. She was by far the best player on the court all year. She loves to dominate the ball but also is really good at getting the whole team involved.
-Morgan Larkin, shooting guard/3 point specialist. Morgan played up as a 7th grader last year on the 8th grade team, which also won the Public School Championship. This year she returned and was selected "First Team All Tournament” in every tournament played.
-Janessa Yniguez, guard/defensive specialist. Janessa had to do a little bit of everything, play defense on the best player from the other team, handle the ball, and she was "Queen of the Fast Break." Janessa was also selected "First Team All Tournament," in every tournament played this year.
-Katie Gilligan. This is her first year playing basketball. She heard that the team might not have enough girls to make a team, so she decided to help out and give basketball a try. The team couldn't have done it with out her.
-Mia Locatelli. Mia was called up from the 7th Grade when the team’s center (Whittaker Miller) went down with a severely sprained ankle in the Public School Championship Tournament. Mia joined the team in the Private School Tournament and had big shoes to fill as a starter. Mia started at the center position in the Willow Glen Tournament. Not only was she the only 7th Grader in the tournament she played really well and is now a member of the Holy Cross team.
-Whittaker Miller, center. Whittaker had a really good season and was one of the best centers in the league. Whittaker plays down low on the blocks where it is very physical. Her job on the team was to be the tough down low presence. During the Public School Championship Final, Whittaker severely sprained her ankle and was not able to participate in the Willow Glen Tournament. After many weeks of rehab she is now back and ready to play in the State Championship which is crucial to the team's success.
-Kajsa Johnson, small forward. Kajsa like Whittaker and Morgan played up last year as a 7th grader. Kajsa had her best game of the season at Willow Glen in the finals.