EL CAPITAN BASKETBALL HOSTS 2022-23 MEDIA DAY

24 days ago East County Magazine

Story and photos by Liz Alper

Story and photos by Liz Alper

 

Photo, from left to right:  Emily Sample (sophomore guard), Kennedy Caires (junior guard), Amaya Tone (junior guard), Mikayla Williams (freshman guard), Sammy Willis (sophomore guard)

 

November 14, 2022 (Lakeside) - El Capitan boys basketball begins their season Thursday night, while the girls started over the weekend.  ECM Sports headed out to Lakeside for media day to get a feel for this new and exciting season.

The lady Vaqueros are returning five sophomores, two juniors and one senior, according to head coach Dylan Curtis.  

 

"The biggest thing we're looking at this year is making a deep run in DII," Curtis said. "Division II playoffs, I think, is definitely a number one goal.  One thing you'll see about us this year is that our IQ has grown so much and our skill level has developed.  We have a tough schedule, we have plenty of DI schools on our schedule this year...but it's definitely something that I think these kids can handle and I'm doing nothing but trying to make sure that we're ready for what our schedule's gonna face this year and we're super excited to get started this season and we can't wait to see all you Vaquero fans out there in the stands."

 

Since the girls' squad has such a young team this year, I asked the ladies what sets this team apart from any other team.  "I think that the fact that we have such a young team is really what sets us apart from everyone else in the league," said sophomore Lilly Williams, a power forward.

 

"I feel like we all really like playing together and we have really good chemistry and get along with each other really well," added Keira Heinricy, a freshman shooting guard.

 

The girls have a really tough schedule this year, featuring teams like Our Lady of Peace and Mt. Carmel, but the girls are really looking forward to their conference matchups against the Foothillers of Grossmont and Mt. Miguel.  "A opponent that we have a hard time with is Mt. Miguel," Lilly said. "another opponent is Grossmont, so we're really looking forward to Grossmont, I think the whole team is, actually."  That received a lot of agreement from the other girls.

 

Photo, right, from left to right:  Natalie Andrews (sophomore guard), Lilly Williams (sophomore guard), Madie Peet (senior center), Paige Wortham (sophomore center), Keira Heinricy (freshman guard)  

 

"I think that Grossmont's definitely one of our biggest rivals and I'm really excited for that game because I've been waiting to play them for a while since last year," said sophomore guard Sammy Willis.

 

"We definitely have a heavier schedule, added sophomore guard Emily Sample. "DI teams are mostly on there...we're challenging ourselves this year."

 

Lilly said that the team has been playing together for a long time, so there's not really a lot to teach the younger players.  "Pretty much the whole team has played together since we were in elementary school so it helps that we're not just teammates, we're literally like sisters."

 

"I think we kind of let them play their game," said junior guard Amaya Tone. "...once they're playing their game, we learn how to use both of ours and put it together."

 

I asked the girls how they feel about matching up with older opponents since they're such a young team.  "...I think that our confidence has really grown and also just trusting each other, " said Natalie Andrews, a sophomore guard.

 

"I also feel like we're very competitive, so if we play older opponents, we still try to match up and match their energy and the way they play," Heinricy added.

 

The girls all said they loved their coaches and called them "amazing."

 

"Not for the weak, that's for sure," Sample joked. "but I love it, it's good.  I'm not super sensitive so all this criticism...I think it helps."

 

"I think it definitely helps us push ourselves because he knows what we're capable of," added Willis.

 

"I think last year was a little bit rocky," said Sample when I asked the girls if being so young helps or hinders them. "but we learned to grow together."

 

"I agree, I think having a young team helps us grow as we all get older together," said Willis.

 

 

Tone added another good reason that having a young team helps. "I think also with a young team, you don't have to worry about losing too many people while you're in that growing process."

 

Tone talked about what it's like as a young team going up against DI powerhouses like Mt. Carmel, Mira Mesa and Grossmont that are mainly juniors and seniors. "Last year, it was kind of really hard because most of our team was just freshmen, like they were coming in and being on varsity for the first time and then playing teams that already have that much experience, it was really hard to match up with that or to try to bring the same energy as them because it was their first time playing on a varsity team...I definitely think it made it harder, but also, it's good competition for us."

 

Both the boys and the girls said that college recruiting is definitely on their minds. "I would say absolutely," said Sample. "...to me, it's a big deal, especially if you're playing travel ball...I'm definitely concerned about that and getting there."

 

"I think it's now or never at this point, there's no going back," said senior boys basketball forward Micah Odell. "...everything you do, leave it on the court...go 110 percent every time."

 

 

Photo, left, standing:  Noah Tate (senior guard), Kevin Acuna (senior guard).  Seated:  Micah Odell (senior forward), Chance LaChappa (junior guard), Jaylin Padilla (senior center), Marshal Mair (senior guard) 

 

Contrary to the girls, the male Vaqueros are mostly all upperclassmen.  Odell weighed in on how this helps. "For me, I've been playing varsity four years...just kind of growing, learning from your mistakes, being able to just keep coming every year...and just play hard every year and just being a senior, you just kind of know what you're doing at this point and you still make a lot of mistakes, but from being a freshman, I know I've grown a lot."

 

Micah and the guys said that the two toughest opponents this season are West Hills and Steele Canyon.

 

Odel also talked about head coach Scott Reed. "...he's really big into basketball culture so everyone knows him, so for guys like us, it's very important to be able to have a coach like that..."

 

The Vaqueros take the court for the first time in 2022 on Thursday against San Diego Jewish Academy at 7 p.m., while the lady Vaqueros' next game is tomorrow night against Santana at El Cap at 7 p.m.

 

Like our sports coverage?  Donate to help support ECM’s sports section! 

 

Follow @ECMagSports on Twitter for live sports coverage and stories!

 

Does Sant your child play a sport at a level other than varsity?  Comment on this story or tweet @ECMagSports to request coverage!

 


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