The Pacific Point Christian School girls basketball team has a grand total of five players on its roster. Bereft of numbers—the Gilroy private school is the smallest in the entire Central Coast Section—official jerseys and a home court, Pacific Point is the feel-good story of perhaps the entire Bay Area prep basketball scene.
The Lions are 6-1 in their first year of fielding a program. Even though Pacific Point is classified as a junior varsity team, three of its victories have come against varsity squads. Coached by John Prettyman, who is also a pastor at Grace Bible Church in Hollister, and led by Olivia Prettyman—the one of Prettyman’s two daughters on the team—the Lions are hoping the 2017-2018 season is one that will jumpstart the program into sustained success.
Joe Lampkin, who is the school’s athletic director and boys basketball coach, realizes fielding two teams is no small feat.
“It’s a lot of fun coaching here because you get a lot of kids who have never played the game before, and you get to see them improve,” said Lampkin, a former Valley Christian-San Jose standout. “When they beat much larger schools, it does wonders for their confidence.”
Pacific Point opened its campus in 2004 under the name Anchor Point (the school changed its name in 2014). Last year, the high school had an enrollment of 44; this year the enrollment rose to 77, Lampkin said. The girls team wouldn’t have had enough bodies to field a team had it not been for Prettyman moving his family from Nebraska to Hollister last year. Olivia, a 5-foot-9 junior post, is averaging 40 points, around 15 to 20 rebounds and approximately five blocks a game.
Her younger sister, Angela, a freshman, is the team’s point guard. The two have shown tremendous chemistry on the court, with Angela able to get the ball to Olivia in tight spaces. Due to the team’s lack of experience—two girls had never played organized basketball before this season, let alone a pickup game—John has installed a simple offense that revolves getting the ball to its best player.
Olivia likes to get the ball around the free throw line, where she can nail down jump shots or drive to the basket to create scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates.
“Our team understands the concept of team work. They know Olivia will get a lot of shots, but they also know their role on the team is equally as important as her role,” John said.
Indeed, with only five girls on the roster, everyone’s roles are magnified. In addition to the Prettyman sisters, Madeline Barreras, Abigail Apolinar and Daejah Ma have played instrumental roles.
Ma is a freshman who has the ability to drain shots from 3-point range. She is also one of the team’s post defenders. Like all of her teammates, Ma has to play a variety of roles. Offensively, she is a shooting guard. Defensively, she is a power forward. Apolinar, a junior post, likes to bang inside and does a solid job on the boards.
Apolinar is a first-year player with a soccer background.
“She likes to use her body to push people around,” Prettyman said. “She does a good job of getting in position and rebounding the ball.”
Barreras, a sophomore guard, is another first-year player who has made steady improvement as the season has gone along. Barreras is adept at getting to the basket off dribble penetration while also being quick defensively. It was Barreras who was the last member to join the squad, as the players recruited her to join the team so it could field a starting give.
That was a couple of days before the team’s first game in early December. Angela, a 5-1 freshman, possesses a Midas touch when it comes to passing the ball and getting it to the right person at the right time, especially to Olivia, who had a career-high 51 points in a 63-40 win over Anzar High’s varsity team earlier this season.
While prepping at Nebraska Christian High last year, Olivia earned a trip to the state track and field championships, competing in the 800- and 1600-meter runs and high jump event.
Olivia said it’s been an interesting journey for the team, which until two weeks ago had to tape their names on the back of their t-shirts for identification. When the players received their reversible jerseys, they were ecstatic.
“I think it was Maddie’s mom who got the jerseys and brought them to school for us,” Olivia said. “When I saw them, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is so great.’”
Pacific Point looks to continue its role as a team that will rise up against larger schools. The boys team is in its second year as a program and competes in the Mission Trail Coastal Athletic League. The Lions were 3-5 through their first eight games, and have a healthy 14-man roster. The team continues to be inspired by Josiah Duyao, who would’ve been one of the team’s top returning players this season as a junior.
However, Duyao died in a car accident last July, with Lampkin saying a drunk driver hit the car Duyao was a passenger in. Initially, Duyao looked like he was going to survive, but an ensuing infection led to irreparable brain damage, Lampkin said. It’s apparent Duyao made a huge impact on the team.
“We had guys on the team that were not going to play until he passed,” Lampkin said. “He had a huge impact on everyone’s lives. The girls understand what he was about and the spirit he brought to the game. It betters their bond. Our team sweater says, ‘Play for Josiah.’ His spirit is still with us.”
Duyao’s death was particularly stinging for Lampkin, who had invested time in building a relationship with Duyao for the last couple of years.
“I couldn’t talk about it for months,” Lampkin said. “As much as this was a tragedy, we’ve used it as a blessing.”
After every practice, the team breaks the huddle by chanting, “Play for Joe.” They also sing songs of praise before every game, with Lampkin saying, “We know Josiah is looking down upon us.” Lampkin reminds his players on how hard Duyao trained, particularly when it came to intense hill workouts.
“One thing with Josiah, he never skipped anything,” Lampkin said. “The players are humble, and part of that stems from Josiah’s passing. They go out there and fight, because that’s what Josiah was—a fighter. I would do anything to watch Josiah play again.”
The boys roster includes Josh Montenegro, Kenny Mahler, Clay Acevedo, Akua Floyd, Roberto Valencia, Kyle Santos, Deandre Jordan, David Apolinar, Gabe Smart, Charlie Rigutto, Ethan Fry, Noah Harrison and Sean O’Connor. As the athletic director of a small school that lacks the resources of other institutions, Lampkin knows it’ll take time to build a sustainable program. Things can be taxing at times—in addition to his varsity boys team duties, Lampkin coaches the school’s three middle school teams and a National Junior Basketball (NJB) squad—but he’s enjoying the process in the rare moments he gets a breather.
The boys and girls teams practice in the Aromas Elementary gym, with the girls also practicing outside on the courts they have on campus.
“We don’t have a lot of equipment,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of things.”
What they do have is a band of brothers and sisters who play with as much heart as any team in the area—and in the end, that is what counts the most.