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Hawks girls basketball squad aim at playoffs after two-year absence
Hawks improve chemistry during summer season
Mikayla Mabie (pictured), Lindsey Alexander and Melissa Afortunado will fill key roles with the Hawks this year. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

Central Valley High School's varsity girls basketball team started preparing for the 2014-15 season during the summertime.

The Hawks compiled a 19-13 record while playing more than 30 games. Central Valley competed in the Modesto Junior College Summer League. The Hawks attended camps at Stanislaus State, Chico State and Sacramento State. Central Valley also hosted a pair of tournaments.
"The girls played together all summer," Hawks head coach Jesse Padilla said. "Our chemistry is pretty good."

Central Valley last participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in 2011-12 when it qualified for the postseason and claimed the Western Athletic Conference title for the second year in a row.

"We want to get there," Padilla said while talking about the Hawks' playoff aspirations. "But you have to have the personnel and we do. We just got to protect the ball and keep our turnovers down."

Returnees Mikayla Mabie (Jr.), Lindsey Alexander (Sr.), Melissa Afortunado (Sr.) and Heaven Simon (Sr.), and newbies Alyssa Costa (Jr.), Teresa Diaz (Jr.), Celest Lepe (Jr.), Nicole Munoz (Jr.), Simi Sahota (Jr.), Krystal Salazar (Jr.) and Alejandra Paz (Jr.) make up the Hawks' 11-person roster.

Mabie and Alexander started last season.

"We got more weapons this year," Padilla said. "I just need to find out where they'll be successful at. We'll be able to score. We have a lot of shooters."

Mabie averaged 4.7 points, 3.0 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals at the varsity level her sophomore year. She shot 38 percent (5 of 13) from 3-point range.

"Mikayla is the vocal one," Padilla said. "She knows the game well. The other girls look up to her."

Alexander averaged 4.3 points per game. She shot 41 percent (11 of 27) from long-distance.

Afortunado averaged 3.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

Simon, a standout in track and field, averaged 2.3 points per game.

"Lindsey and Melissa lead by example," Padilla said.

Costa, Diaz, Lepe, Munoz, Sahota and Salazar propelled the JV Hawks to a second-place tie in the WAC standings (9-3) with Ceres High in 2013-14.

Central Valley lost nine players to graduation, including starters Mia Lorenzo, Tamara Uti and Bianca Zuniga.

Lorenzo, a three-year standout, led Central Valley in scoring (12.1) and assists (4.0) a year ago.

Central Valley finished 12-12 on the year and tied for third place with Ceres High in the conference standings (5-7) this past season.

Patterson captured the WAC crown with a perfect 12-0 mark.

"It's going to be interesting," Padilla said. "For us to finish in the top three, we just need to play hard and put everything together."

Central Valley compiled a 1-1 record versus Ceres High a year ago.

The Bulldogs won the second meeting, 48-47, as Ceres High standout Nicole Bates buried a wide-open jumper at the buzzer.

"It's just another game," Padilla said while talking about the crosstown rivalry.