Others within the Brea-Olinda girls' basketball program, a system staunchly committed to the concept of team play and one that characteristically is supposed to yield championships but no individual stars, get more recognition than Katie Bauer.
But perhaps there isn't anyone on the Ladycat squad, which meets Rancho Alamitos for the Southern California Division III regional title today at the L.A. Sports Arena, who better exemplifies Coach Mark Trakh's philosophy on the floor.
Bauer, a 5-foot-10 senior who splits time between forward and guard, is an outstanding player who most likely would have made a considerable impact on a lesser team. With the Ladycats, however, she is a defensive specialist, a role that won't get her many headlines but might possibly put her name on another State championship banner.
"On this level, you can be successful with only two (top) players if everybody else knows their role. Katie fits well in our system because of that," said Trakh, who is looking to take Brea to its fourth consecutive appearance in the State finals. "She's a great defensive player. She's very sound fundamentally and she's unselfish. She plays hard all the time."
And she knows a good thing when she's smack in the middle of one. Yes, she might be a hotshot elsewhere, but how many other high school players have been on three teams that made it to the State finals--winning two--and on another squad that is on the verge of getting there again?
"I know my role and I accepted it and I like it," said Bauer, a second-team All-Orange League selection this season who averages 8.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. "My main contribution is to keep everyone motivated and to be the best defensive player I can be. . . . Sometimes it seems like Jody (Anton) and Nicole (Erickson) have too much pressure on themselves about scoring. I have no pressure. I just go out there and do the best I can."
She does that whenever she takes the court, but she was particularly impressive in a 68-59 victory over Riverside North in the Southern Section semifinals last year, when she played one of her all-time best games against a tough opponent. Bauer finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
And Thursday, in a resounding 74-25 victory over West Covina South Hills in the regional semifinals, Bauer gave her usual consistent effort. Forward Anton and point guard Erickson again carried the load with 14 and 15 points, respectively, but Bauer wasn't far behind with eight points--six in the first quarter--eight rebounds, one blocked shot and three steals in her last home game.
The sentimentality of the moment and of her imminent departure from the team--either today or next weekend--wasn't lost in the wake of another easy victory.
"It's sad because it's almost all over," said Bauer, who plans to attend college as a communications or criminal justice major. Her basketball-playing future is uncertain, but some college programs have shown interest in her. "I have not only learned to be a basketball player, but also to interact with people and be able to communicate with everybody. Also, working toward a common goal with people as a team, is something I can take into the work force. I think that's important."
And, of course, there will always be memories.
"I've made a lot of good friends and I'll cherish them forever," Bauer said. "And having my name on the State championship banners in the gym, I can come back and see them and remember."