Santa Cruz, Calif. – During the last few possessions of Westcliff’s final game, the Warriors were diving on the floor and hustling. You would think that the game was down to the wire! During one of those moments, Maili Fabius managed to get a steal that transferred into a fast break. Jaquel Quest trailed as Fabius spun and gave Quest the assist. The Warriors were down 20 points; however, that one play exemplified the grit and perseverance of the Warriors. So much so, that the commentators could not help but take notice. One commentator said, “Maili Fabius is still working hard regardless of the score!” The other made a statement that summed up the Warriors’ inaugural season… their performance tonight is “a glimpse of what’s to come for Westcliff once they get numbers.”
The inaugural season was far from easy; but, from the beginning all of the 2018-2019 players knew that this time would be about setting the foundation for the culture that Coach Patty Medina aims to establish, as well as, growing individually as players and young women. The adversity that the players faced throughout the season would have made many throw in the towel — and a few did — however, the six Warriors that stayed continued to grow game by game. Although the Warriors did not pull the win against UCSC, the two leading scorers for the night are prime examples of the growth that was experienced this season, on and off the court.
After playing two seasons at Irvine Valley College and sitting out an entire year, Patty McClure-Tidwell’s former junior college coach mentioned to her that she had received an email about a new school in Irvine. They were starting a women’s basketball team and that she should reach out. She met with Westcliff’s Coach, whose name also happened to be Patty, and talked for hours. The similarities between both Patties would become more and more obvious throughout season. Tidwell became the team captain which is an extension of the head coach. Leadership isn’t for everyone. One has to have a sense of confidence to lead because not everyone will be happy and not everyone will agree. Nonetheless, Patty’s biggest lesson this inaugural season from coach would be just that — confidence as a captain, player and young woman. During the final minutes of the game against UCSC, Tidwell had tallied 7 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. As she ran past her, Coach Patty told her that she needed her to score at least three more points to get her second double-double of the season. The following offensive possession, Tidwell came off a screen and scored an NBA range three-pointer to finish with 10 points. When players know that their coach believes in them, even when they don’t believe in themselves, their potential is uncapped.
Westcliff’s All-Time Leading Scorer, Simone Hall, has also grown since signing late August of 2018. Initially, Simone Hall was going to attend the University of Dallas but a situation with her financial aid impeded the move. Her coach at Lewis and Clark mentioned Westcliff to her as an option. A few days later, Coach Patty spoke to her on the phone and Simone shared with her that her main goal was to become a “key player” at her next program. Coach Patty told her that a new program like Westcliff would be the perfect opportunity to attain that goal. She took a leap of faith and boarded a plane to California. The first time she and coach met in person was the day she arrived to California. Simone’s leap of faith was not in vain. After many consistent double-digit games, she was able to account for a couple 30 point performances and set the scoring record with 33 points and also set the record for rebounds with 20. Against UCSC, yellow jerseys were hounding her every move. Simone did not score until late in the game against the Banana Slugs but still managed to finish as the leading scorer for the night. Simone Hall has now reached her goal of becoming the key player that other teams aim to shut down and double team.
Although Tidwell and Hall were the leading scorers of the night, all six remaining Warriors contributed. Maili Fabius finished with 8 points after hitting two back-to-back flawless NBA range three-pointers late in the fourth quarter and a beautiful pump-fake drive to the basket that planted the defender on the ground. Jaquel Quest finished with 6 points but was, again, a presence in the paint. She played great help defense and totaled for three blocks against the lengthy Slugs. She was able to finish with 58 total blocks this season. Alyssa Starr and Andrece Tate had an off-night offensively, finishing with 4 and 3 points respectively, but they contributed in many intangible ways as well as in rebounding.
Coach Patty Medina emphasized the impact of the size of the team this season but added that this made the rest of the players extremely close, working better as a unit. Having a six-women roster was not discouraging; in fact, it led the players to buy in to the message that Medina and the rest of the coaching staff wanted to convey. Practices may have been short, but lack of intensity was never an issue and road trips were always entertaining because of the bond the six players share. The Warriors aim to maintain that bond through the summer and into the new season so that all incoming recruits follow suit and buy in early.