So there's this glass of water and it's filled half way. If you're a pessimist you'd say the glass is half empty, if you're an optimist you'd claim it's half full and if you're Mickey McAulay, Katella High School girls' basketball coach, you'd inform the water that with hard work and dedication there's no reason it couldn't develop into a very fine river someday.
McAulay is in her fourth season at Katella. Her team was 1-19 in her first season and she couldn't have been happier. She surrounded herself with a bunch of freshmen who were eager to learn, she was eager to teach.
Last season, Katella went 21-4 and reached the Southern Section 3-A quarterfinals. This season the Knights are 26-2 and play Brea-Olinda at 7:30 tonight in a 3-A semifinal game at Foothill High.
"You've got some people on this team who have come a long way," McAulay. "We made some goals four years ago. Goals that at the time seemed impossible. But now they're coming true. One of those goals was to get to a CIF (Southern Section) final. We're one game away from that."
Six members of the Katella varsity played on that 1-19 team. Four of the six are starters.
Katella's game borders on the frantic. Pressure defense, looking to run whenever possible. Katella wears opponents down and makes few mistakes.
To listen to Mark Trakh, Brea-Olinda coach, the one game that separates Katella from its goals is a mere formality.
"I think we're definitely the underdog," he said. "They've got the better record, they've had the tougher draw in the playoffs and they're probably a bit more hungry than we are."
Before shedding a tear for defenseless Brea (23-4), remember it is the defending 3-A champion and is seeded No. 2 in 3-A.
Brea defeated Katella by 16 points in the final of the Brea-Olinda Christmas Tournament this season.
"But they're a totally different basketball team from that time," Trakh said. "This is the last chance for a lot of the players who started out there as freshman. They are on a mission. They're going to destroy any team that stands in their way."
At the heart of Katella's offense is its diversity. Consider that that leading scorer Serenda Valdez averages 10 points a game. Forward Kelli Johnson was an All-Southern Section last season. Point guard Julie Standering is one of Orange County's best.
Standering doesn't score a lot, but she is averaging 6.4 assists a game and her intensity makes her a type of McAulay-extension on the court.
Carrie Egan is the Brea's leading scorer and will probably be matched against Standering. Forward Kristen McPhee has been playing well in the playoffs. "We're going to show up," Trakh said. "And we're going to play hard. But if we lose, I'm glad it would be to someone like Katella. They've come so far. Mickey's done an unbelievable job with those kids. Four years ago they're nowhere."
In the other 3-A semifinal:
Mission Viejo vs. Louisville at Thousand Oaks High
Santa Barbara vs. Edison at Huntington Beach High
Woodbridge vs. Chino at Ontario High.