A powerhouse in the state for more than a decade St. Mary's (Stockton) likes
to keep things diverse in their locker room. With Oregon State commit Tiffany
Ducker representing the senior class, arguably the best outside shooter in
junior Renee Roberts, and sensational sophomore Jackie Gemelos St. Mary's
doesn't worry about age when they are beating up on the competition, they worry
about the score.
"We play a fun, wide open style, and I think that's one of the reasons we get so many great players," Head Coach Tom Gonsalves says, "we practice the same way we play. Fast." The up-tempo style leads to a plethora of fast breaks, and with players this talented fast breaks lead to points.
St. Mary's doesn't shy away from playing the best either. This season already the Rams have faced off against a USA Today preseason #1 from Shelbyville, TN, #2 Oregon City, OR, #3 Mt. View, UT, and #4 Long Beach Poly. With wins over two of the four one might expect the Rams themselves to be highly ranked, but despite those wins and others against #6 LaJolla Country Day and St. Ignatius St. Mary's finds itself on the outside looking in to the National Rankings.
"I think it's hard for the writers to put a team with four losses in the national rankings," Coach Gonsalves said, "but it doesn't bother this team. We know the more we win the better our chances of being ranked will be. I admit I was a little shocked we didn't get ranked after the tournament in Phoenix (the Nike Tournament of Champions) where we placed fourth, but I understand." In state the Rams have dropped only two games, to Long Beach Poly and Piedmont, but the coach doesn't worry about the losses.
"I don't mind losing to the best teams in the country. Last year we lost to Piedmont and then came back and beat them by 20 in the State Championship game. It was early in the year and we were still meshing and gelling together as a team."
When asked about the consistent string of talent that comes into the St. Mary's program Gonsalves credits the St. Mary's sponsored AAU teams that start as young as 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. "Those teams are coached by St. Mary's High School coaches. So it helps the players because they are getting great instruction, and it becomes a sort of feeder program to our high school team."
And when other coaches are calling a 25-point loss to St. Mary's a ‘moral victory' as one coach did this year, it becomes apparent that St. Mary's is a force to be reckoned with.
Watch for profiles of St. Mary's three-headed monster of Ducker, Roberts, and Gemelos coming soon on PrepCA.