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CHS grad wins award for coaching
Mazza sisters led BVC to playoffs
Jessica Mazza (pictured right) has been voted Central California Athletic Alliance Coach of the Year. Sister Heather Mazza (left) was her assistant coach. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

The Mazza sisters, Jessica and Heather, pushed all the right buttons while leading Big Valley Christian's varsity girls basketball team to record heights this past winter.

Jessica was recently named 2016-17 Central California Athletic Alliance Coach of the Year.

Heather has been younger sibling Jessica's assistant coach the last two seasons.

"I was surprised," Jessica stated. "It's nice to be validated in a male-dominated field. My sister said I was going to get it. I consider us both coach of the year. We're equals. We worked together. It definitely wasn't all me."

Big Valley Christian compiled a 15-10 overall record, finished second in the CCAA standings (8-2) and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI playoffs.

"I'm really proud of my girls," Jessica said. "Everyone knew what the goal was. Everyone showed up at practice and worked hard. We won a playoff game for the first time in school history. This is probably my favorite team of my coaching career. It was drama free."

Sixth-seeded Big Valley Christian upset third-seeded Freedom Christian 35-25 in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lions limited Eagles' junior captain Hannah Nugen to just nine points, 16 below her season average.

"We didn't have game film," Jessica said. "We didn't know what to expect. We played awesome defense."

Big Valley Christian lost 37-25 to second-seeded/eventual runner-up Victory Christian in the semifinals.

"It's definitely very rewarding to make it that far," Jessica said. "We worked really well as a group."

Big Valley Christian experienced a major turnaround.

The Lions went 6-19 and placed fourth in the CCAA (3-9) during the 2015-16 school year.

Jessica previously coached Big Valley Christian's junior-varsity (2014-15), eighth-grade (2013-14) and seventh-grade (2012-14) girls teams.

She led Big Valley's 2012-13 seventh-grade squad to the league championship.

"Being my second year at varsity, I definitely had more confidence going the season," Jessica said. "I didn't have to spend every minute of practice teaching them plays. We worked on skills. It showed during games."

Jessica and Heather played two seasons of hoops together at Ceres High. They were coached by Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte. Jessica and Heather helped lead the Bulldogs to their first section title in girls basketball in 2004-05.

Jessica and Heather earned scholarships to Fresno Pacific University and Bethany College, respectively.

"Shawna and Phil were masters in what they taught us," Jessica said. "They were 100 percent all for us. Heather and I are that way with our girls."

Jessica and Heather will continue to coach together.

"Big Valley Christian isn't known for girls basketball," Jessica said. "We're hoping to change that. We're going to be here for the long haul."