SANTA MARIA — Months after the Santa Maria volleyball team made history by making back-to-back trips to the third round of the playoffs, the Santa Maria girls basketball program has also made history even before the playoffs have begun.
This year’s regular season record of 26-2 has been the winningest record in program history.
What’s been the common denominator? Its athletes.
“All these girls have been working hard because they play multiple sports,” said Santa Maria head coach Andrew Sierra. “From cross country to volleyball they have been really successful and that translates to basketball. Coach Sofia Garcia has done a good with the volleyball program and we want that to transition to basketball.
“The girls work hard in volleyball and then they come work hard in basketball, and it’s just the great work ethic the girls bring.”
This season’s basketball success has brought state recognition to the small town as the Lady Cougars finished the regular season ranked 13th in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 2017 Basketball Poll.
Despite the accolade, Coach Sierra admitted that while the team was honored the girls remain humble and still carry a chip on their shoulder.
“It’s a great accomplishment to be recognized for both the team and community, especially down here in South Texas and especially when you have teams from the Houston, Dallas and San Antonio area also ranked,” said Sierra. “But the girls don’t let it get to their heads, and they come in here ready to practice and ready to get rid of the chip on their shoulders.”
That metaphorical chip on their shoulder is the program’s failure to advance past the second round of the playoffs. Technically, Santa Maria’s girls basketball program has never won a bi-district game. Past Lady Cougars’ teams have made it to the area round, but only because of first-round byes.
When the season began Santa Maria had four must-accomplish goals:
-Win district. Check.
-Go unblemished in district play. Check.
-Win the program’s first playoff game.
-Go at least three round deep and get to the state tournament.
“I’ve been four rounds deep with the boys team and it was a great experience,” said Sierra. “Going against the top teams in Texas is a great feeling and I want the girls program to get there, and with this program I feel like we can.
“They have already broken barriers for volleyball so now we are looking to get that going for girls basketball.”
The Lady Cougars get their postseason journey started on Tuesday in their Class 2A bi-district match against Ben Bolt at San Isidro High School at 7 p.m.
IF YOU GO
Santa Maria vs. Ben Bolt
-Time: 7 p.m.
-Date: Tuesday, Feb. 13
-Where: San Isidro High School, 5175 FM 1017