When Monte Vista's Paula Mascari was hoisted up to the rim Friday night to get her chance at slicing down the net after the Monarchs beat Mount Miguel to clinch the Grossmont League title, she was provided a rare perspective.
"I was so high up there, you wouldn't believe it," said Mascari, a 5-foot 6-inch senior guard. "It was weird--for once I got to look down on some people."
Mascari doesn't spend a lot of time up around the rim. At a glance, she might appear better suited to passing than shooting. But don't make any hasty decisions about Mascari or the Monarchs.
In Monte Vista's 69-66 win over Mount Miguel, Mascari, The Times' Player of the Week, scored 30 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had 10 assists. The Matadors climbed to 21-2 overall and remained undefeated in league play.
"This team doesn't have the best athletes," Coach Manny Silva said. "But togetherness is a big part of athletics. And when you can bring kids together who are able to execute well and concentrate, there's nothing better."
Mascari, who leads San Diego County in scoring with a 25.6 average, agrees.
"The success of this team has come from a combination of our talents," she said. "Without them passing to me and screening for me, there's no way I could have had the season I've had."
Mascari, a four-year starter, and teammate Becky Aikin are the catalysts. They have played together on the varsity for three years.
"Becky and I are the main scorers on the team," Mascari said. "We really do complement each other. We realize we can pick up each other's slack. If I'm not on, Becky's on. And if Becky's not on, Melissa (Smith) is on."
"If I'm having an off-night, I know somebody will be there," said Aikin. "Paula and I don't have to do everything for the team this year."
Mascari said: "We each have our roles and know what we're expected to do. Mainly, my experience playing four years helps a lot. (Team leadership) is my major contribution, more than scoring or anything else."
Mascari has overcome her height to become the top player in the league.
"People have tried to use my size as a mental crutch, saying I'm not tall enough or quick enough," she said. "What matters is how big your heart is. . . . I just go out and do my best.
"My desire and hustle have overcome my physical disabilities."
She learned early that size was a factor in basketball. She used to play against her older brother, Joe, in their driveway.
"Playing with my brother helped a lot," she said. "I learned how to dribble and make moves. I was learning how to play and be competitive, not wanting my brother to beat me--and he did every time.
"But now, I can beat him."
Monte Vista High School
Height, Class: 5-6, Sr.
Last Week: Scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Monte Vista's 69-66 win over Mount Miguel Friday; scored 18 points in 57-48 win over Santana.
Season: Averaging 25.6 points per game; leads San Diego County girls in scoring.