When Rose Thompson's father, George, was alive, he was her biggest fan.
A playground hero, George Thompson was nicknamed "Pistol Pete" for his blacktop sleight-of-hand.
And when Rose, now a Daly City Westmoor star, played rec league ball as a little girl, George redefined the term "vocal."
"He used to yell and cheer her on," said Linda Thompson, Rose's mother.
"Sometimes the referees would tell him he'd have to leave the gym if he didn't be quiet."
George had taught Rose and her older brother, Peter, to play. But he died of lung cancer when Rose was just 10 years old. Peter couldn't speak at the funeral service, but Rose wrote a tribute to her father that Linda read.
"It was touching to me how she handled her dad's death," Linda said. "She really misses him coming to the games."
Now a senior at Westmoor, Rose is the Rams' best player. Despite being just 5-foot-5, she averages 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Her drive is supplied now, as it was years ago, by her father.
"He had a huge impact on me," Rose said. "It was hard when he died, but basketball was my escape. I wanted to do well for him. He'd be happy if he could see me playing now."
Such as Tuesday when Rose and her teammates shined in a 71-38 win at Pacifica Oceana. The diminutive off-guard led the Rams' fast-paced offense, scoring 21 points. Teammates Dezzirae Cafferata, Kourtney Caine and Sequoyah Reed added 10 points apiece.
Saturday Rose will lead her team into the Acalanes Shootout in
Rose's effort against Oceana was typical. She was, after all, named Most Valuable Player of both the Seaside Sweet 16 tournament and the Westmoor tourney.
A four-year starter, she has also led the Rams to 39 consecutive Peninsula Athletic League-North victories.
"Rose is a leader who just loves the game," said Corey Cafferata, the Westmoor coach and father of Dezzirae. "Her father died when she was young and her mother holds down to jobs and basketball has become her escape and her identity."
Although her lack of height may put off college suitors, Rose still hopes for a scholarship. So far, Fresno Pacific has showed the most interest.
"I think I'll have a chance for a scholarship," said Rose, a B-plus student. "I hope so. I think I can get one."
Not all of Rose's basketball ability comes from her father, by the way.
played a little hoops herself, back in the day at her alma mater, Oakland Bishop
O'Dowd. Now she watches Rose play as much as she can, while also working as a
phlebotomist (one who draws blood) at
Sometimes Linda even laces on her sneakers and plays Rose one-on-one.
"She tries to guard me," Rose said with a laugh. "She doesn't let me take it easy on her. She can play, but she's a little rusty."