By John Philip Wyllie
Midway Baptist’s Erica Sanchez played a huge role during the regular season in leading the Citrus League West champions to their second consecutive conference banner. Averaging more than 24 points per game, the 6’1” forward ranked near the top among the county’s leading scorers. With the Division V CIF San Diego Section Tournament now underway, Sanchez isn’t finished yet.
“She is our go-to player,” says Lady Patriot coach, Gene Rheam. “Whenever it is crunch time we go to her either inside or outside. We have some other girls that contribute, but she is our main player out there. She does everything for us.”
Remarkably, Sanchez is only a sophomore. With two more seasons of high school basketball awaiting her there is no telling how dominant she might become. Hard working and focused, Sanchez has flourished at the small, South Bay Christian high school.
“She is a big inside presence within our league, but she can also shoot from the outside,” said her proud coach. “We’ve had some games where she has hit some three-pointers for us, so she is a strong all-around player and leader.” Her development is no accident.
“Erica has been playing for over ten years and she works very hard on her game. You will often find her here on Saturdays when the gym is empty working on her shooting,” Rheam said.
Sanchez has developed into one of the county’s most lethal offensive weapons, but ironically, defense is what thrills her the most on a basketball court.
“I love blocking shots and getting rebounds. My offense usually builds off of my defense, so I always play the best defense that I can. The offense then usually comes along with it.”
With size and talent to spare Sanchez is drawing a lot of interest from various college programs and elsewhere. She is among a handful of sophomores included on the Breitbard San Diego Hall of Champions watch list and on February 15, Sanchez was named a San Diego Union Tribune Player of the Week.
“She is already receiving letters from Division I, Division II and NAIA college programs. She’s getting at least one or two a week,” Rheam confirmed.
Undefeated in Citrus West League play (9-0) and 20-3 overall (as of 2-23-05) Sanchez and her Lady Patriots hope to advance deep into the Division V Tournament. They demonstrated that they are a team to be reckoned with Tuesday night when they crushed Warner Springs High 78-21 in round one. As usual Sanchez was the evening’s leading scorer, this time pumping in 26 points. While not favored to win the CIF championship this year, Sanchez and her Lady Patriots believe they can surprise the division front-runners. If they do, she should be a shoe-in for Player of the Year honors.