SAN DIEGO PREP BASKETBALL : They Practice, Play, Win Together : Monte Vista Girls' Basketball Team Believes in Teamwork

Hey, guys, interested in taking a member of the Monte Vista High School girls' basketball team on a date?

Fine. But you'd better bring a lot of money and a big car. A bus would be better. You'll be taking the entire team (14 girls).

The Monarchs do everything together.

"We're all best friends," said Paula Mascari. "We do a lot of things off the court and we always do them together, whether it's going to dinner, having slumber party or just goofing around."

In other words, boyfriends take a back seat this time of year.

"I've never been on a team as close as this one. It's weird that we've been able to bring 14 people so close. Basketball is the common bond, but we've managed to tie all our interests together. There are no conflicts on this team."

Instead, the Monarchs spent the winter tearing apart opposing teams. The Monarchs, 16-0 in the Grossmont League and 25-2 overall, play Point Loma Saturday for the San Diego Section 3-A championship.

Mascari is the team leader, the league's all-time leading scorer with 1,756 points and the league's most valuable player. She has averaged 25.7 points per game during her senior season.

But Mascari not only led the team on the court, she helped spark the team's attitude.

"Last summer I encouraged everyone on the team to become good friends and that's when we started doing things together," she said.

Mascari said she was driven by the disappointing finish in 1985. Picked to win the league, the team instead finished third and out of the playoffs.

"We weren't together. We had a lot of personality conflicts. People did things together in groups of two or three. We had a bunch of cliques. But this season has ended up better than I ever thought it could be," she said.

"Being so close has definitely made us a better team," said Becky Aikin, a three-year starter at forward and the team's second-leading scorer (15.6).

"We all know each other so much better now and we know what the other person is doing and thinking on the court. And being so together as a team has made this year so much fun."

Of course, it's easy to have fun when you win as often as the Monarchs. Would a few more losses have unraveled this team?

"No way," said center Liz Larceval, another three-year starter and the team's leading rebounder (10.6). "We'd still be close."

Coach Manny Silva believes in the togetherness theory, but he also credits his team's talent and experience.

"Most of these girls have played together for three years," he said, "and that kind of experience makes a big difference. And we've got some very talented players.

"But I've never had a team as close-knit as this one." The Monarchs have planned a big party, win or lose, after Saturday's game. They might even invite the coach.

Boyfriends? Well . . .

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