The Sierra Pacific girls basketball team gets the question a lot.
“We get a lot of ‘oh, where are you from?’ and it’s mainly ‘oh, we’re kind of by Fresno,'” said junior guard Kylie Brasil. “So, we’re really looking to put ourselves on the map.”
Just two seasons ago, in only the ninth year of existence for the small school out of Hanford, the program won a lot of games, finishing 32-5, and capping off the special season with a Division V state title.
“It was so incredible,” said Brasil. “I was a freshman, and it was a really good experience.”
“It was an indescribable feeling,” said senior Alana Roberts. “I want to experience that again.”
And that idea may not be too farfetched. This year’s squad features a handful of players from that 2018 state championship team, so they know what it takes to get back to that level.
“It’s a lot of pressure actually,” said senior guard Celeste Lewis. “Since we have a different team, everything changes, but you create another bond, and more chemistry with each other.”
“Every year, you can have the same group of kids, but a different team,” said head coach Amy Bush. “You try to keep pushing them to get better individually and as a team, and get the chemistry together. Chemistry is huge.”
Bush has learned that firsthand. She played Division I college basketball at UCLA and Gonzaga, and believes that team chemistry, and a strong work ethic, are two key factors in separating “the good from the best.”
“It’s about working hard,” said Bush. “So working hard in practice, and it just transfers over into the games. And if they’re willing to put everything out there in practice, then it just kind of happens in games.”
“Early morning practices at like 5 a.m. to late practices to 8 o’clock, we’re constantly together,” said Brasil. “so, we kind of have to deal with each other, but we have a really good bond.”
Sierra Pacific continues to build that championship pedigree, with big wins against great teams like Yosemite and San Joaquin Memorial earlier this year.
“I think we have a really good chance with a lot of teams,” said Brasil. “Because of our hard work, and how we all want it so bad.”
“For me growing up, basketball was teaching me about life,” said Bush. “You win some and you lose some, and it’s all how you attack it.”