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Pictured above: Julia Gotishan, Maleena Ridore, and Vanessa Flores
By Marcus D. Smith–
The 2019-20 season for the Mesa Verde varsity girls basketball team was astonishing, for many reasons.
For starters, managing to notch their best record in 15 years shows the difference in where the program is currently and where they’re going in the future. In accomplishing such a feat, the Mavericks were able to accomplish league-wide recognition and bring home awards to enjoy with their families and teammates.
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Team captains Maleena Ridore and Vanessa Flores were selected as members of the 2020 Golden Empire First Team All-League team. Julia Gotishan, a junior, was named Honorable Mention.
“I’m very proud of how far we’ve come as a team and myself,” said Gotishan. “Coming into this season, I was like ‘this is my season, we’re making it this year, we’re making it a good one.’”
Gotishan will be ineligible for the next season due to graduating early. She plans to attend Sacramento State and major in engineering.
Leading the way for the Mavericks in the middle, Ridore averaged a double-double on the season, notching 10.9 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game. Her consistency led her to be named Player of the Game for Mesa Verde in 11 out of the 26 games played this season.
As a junior this year, Ridore led the team in shooting with a 47% field goal percentage. Defensively, she averaged just under three steals per game. Ridore was also named the Mesa Verde Most Valuable Player for 2020. Previously, she was named team MVP her freshman year in the 2017-18 season.
“Honestly, I’d rate this season [as] the best season I’ve ever had…I played with way more potential and I had more confidence,” said Ridore on receiving her team and Golden Empire League awards.
“I feel great about that one…I feel like I really earned it,” Ridore added.
Ridore finished the season 14th in all of the state of California for rebounds per game and ninth with total double-doubles. She finished second on the team in scoring and recorded two triple-doubles this season.
The Mavericks’ scrappy point guard Julia Gotishan led the team in steals with 3.7 per game. She compiled a total of 92 steals for the season and had five or more steals in nine of the 25 games she played in.
Gotishan added seven points per game and five rebounds per game, as a guard. In the Golden Empire League, she finished within the top 10 in steals, rebounds, and assists. She finished at seventh on the list in steals for the Sac-San Joaquin Section – Division IV.
“I’m actually very happy that I was able to make a difference,” said Gotishan. “Growing up I was always competitive…once I’m on the court, once I start playing, it’s bad.”
It was Flores who led the team in scoring in her junior year. She outscored her teammate, Ridore, in total points this season by a free throw, 284 to 283. She averaged 10.9 points per game and was named Player of the Game for eight games this season.
She also made a team-high 45 three-point field goals this season, which was the second most in Sac-San Joaquin Section this season and 31st in the state.
Flores scored a season-high and career-high, 26 points, against Hiram Johnson High School in a non-conference matchup on Jan. 7. Flores was also a defensive standout for the Mavericks, as she led the team in blocks with a total of 22 blocks this season.
Flores was also a recipient of the Mesa Verde Best Teammate Award for 2020.
“It’s not even just me, the team pushes me too,” said Flores. “We all work together… we could tell that we had a chance to do bigger things. We all have that chemistry, so we all just push each other a lot.”
Both captains on the team have been a part of the Mesa Verde girls varsity program since their freshman years in 2017. Mesa Verde’s varsity program has improved every year since they joined the program as freshman players.
The year prior, according to maxpreps.com, the Mavericks girls varsity overall record was 3-19. They helped to improve the team record after their freshman year by a game.
As Flores and Ridore’s games both grew, the progression of the Mavericks basketball program sprouted into a constant development that is coming into its true form. As sophomores, they won five games overall. They would help more than double their win total this season as juniors. Next year, they will enter their final year as they graduate with the class of 2021.
“I definitely want to make playoffs next year. I think we could do it,” said Flores.
The girls have goals looking forward to ending their high school careers with a “bang,” as they have sights on improving their total win record from this year. Not just their overall record, but their league record.
The girls feel that they allowed games to get away from them in early February. They will be working this summer with their sights set on making the CIF Sac-San Joaquin Section Championship playoffs next season.
“Oh yeah definitely,” said Ridore on playoff hopes next season. “There was only one game we lost and it was by one point [against Mira Loma] and we would’ve went to playoffs this year. But next year we’re definitely going to playoffs.”
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