By John Philip Wyllie
What a difference a year makes. Last season the Bonita Vista Barons girls basketball team struggled to an 11-16 finish and lost out in the Mesa League to co-champs Eastlake and Montgomery. This year the Barons are back. They are sporting a 17-4 record and are legitimate contenders for both a CIF playoff berth and a league title. Junior guard, Sasha Jimenez has contributed in big way toward that turnaround.
“Sasha has been one of the backbones of our team and has had a lot to do with our being successful. She is our number two guard and our back-up point guard. Her specialty is three-point shooting,” said Barons second year coach, Wayne Wooten. This is her third year on the varsity team and she is a standout leader.”
Most of her cousins in Guadalajara and Tijuana play soccer and they are amazed by her success on the basketball court.
“All my cousins play soccer and they say that basketball is not a Mexican sport. But I tell them it is for me,” Jimenez said. Her play this season has demonstrated that Hispanic girls can use a basketball court to showcase their talents just as well as they can a soccer field.
Jimenez comes from a basketball family. Three of her brothers played varsity basketball for Bonita Vista and Hilltop. Now it is her turn to shine and her family is right behind her.
“My family had the biggest role in teaching me to play basketball. My dad used to coach my brothers and I would go to their practices. Sometimes I would play with the guys. My dad has me watching college and professional basketball all the time. He has played a huge role in me playing.”
Basketball is not the only thing in her life, however. Jimenez has maintained a 3.2 G.P.A. throughout high school. In her family, school comes first and sports are a reward for working hard in the classroom.
“I love everything about this school from academics to sports. I am going to be a Baron for life,” she says enthusiastically. But she knows her high school career will end next year and it is time to start focusing on the future.
“College is going to be so exciting! I can’t wait. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep playing in college.”
Wooten believes she has what it takes.
“Sasha also plays A.A.U. ball during the summer and my understanding from her coach there is that there has been some interest in her. There are different levels in college basketball. Division I is very competitive, but she could play Division II or Division III for sure. Wooten hopes that more Hispanic basketball players will follow her lead and join his team in the years to come.
“Basketball is still not as popular in the Hispanic community as soccer, but I think interest is growing largely due to the Olympics. I think you are going to see a lot of good Hispanic players come through Bonita.”