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By Marcus D. Smith–
Mesa Verde High School sent their seniors off riding into the sunset on Tuesday after defeating Casa Roble, 35-19, as they concluded their final basketball game of their high school careers.
It was about as flawless as the girls played all season. With the win, they solidified their historic season by capturing the best record for the Mesa Verde girls varsity program in 15 years. The Mavericks finished with a record of 12-14.
“I’m proud of my girls and how well they did this season,” said Mesa Verde Girls Varsity Head Coach Mark Toscano, in conclusion of the 2019-20 basketball season. “These girls putting in the work and never quitting when it got hard over the season, I couldn’t be more proud.”
With this being the final game of the season for the senior class of 2020, the Mavericks made sure to leave it all on the floor. Despite smiling faces for photo ops, the girls were emotional to start the game as they began to actualize the idea that they were playing in their final basketball game.
It wasn’t just the end of a season, it was the end of a career for the senior class.
“It hit me right when I got on the court to play: I was like damn this really is my last game,” said Mesa Verde High School senior forward Xochitl Villanueva.
Senior guard Christina Vermillion left it all on the floor as she helped put the game away against Casa Roble.
Mesa Verde outscored the Rams in the fourth quarter, 14-3, and
“The most outstanding moment was seeing everyone come together and playing their heart and souls out for the last time,” said Vermillion. “It really gets to me because basketball was the only thing I looked forward to everyday, it doesn’t feel like reality, and it’s hard to accept that it is.”
A wave of emotion circulated through the gym the entire night. You were able to vividly see the tears running down the cheeks of the players throughout the beginning, middle, and end of the game.
On cue, there was a Maverick right there to hug and hold their fellow teammate as it would be the final time they could do so on the court, while wearing a Mesa Verde jersey.
“It was so bad. I was trying not to cry like every second, I cried like three times today. It was fun, I’m going to miss it for sure, because I’m not playing in college. I’m going to miss it a lot,” said senior guard Audrina Espino, in conclusion of her basketball season with the team. “The time we spent together, every memory we had, I’ll always cherish it.”
Being able to enjoy the night with family and friends made it worth while for the girls at Mesa Verde High School. Getting the victory was more of the icing on the cake. It seemed as if the girls played with a chip on their shoulder the entire night.
They were coming off a long-lasting duel with Woodland High School that ended in a narrow defeat for the Mavericks, losing by four, 41-37, in the final minute of the game.
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Mesa Verde would finish fourth in the Golden Empire League standings for girls varsity basketball. Unfortunately, only the top three leaders of the league will get the chance to advance to the section playoffs.
Despite the girls not playing at the next level, they each will continue their education. Espino plans to pursue nursing school and become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Villanueva plans to major in zoology at Humboldt State University. Vermillion plans to attend Sacramento State and major in nursing in the next Fall semester.
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Sports Reporter Marcus D. Smith covers high school sports in Citrus Heights. Smith is a Sacramento-area native and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017.
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