One of the things Vincent Avitabile has appreciated most about coaching the South girls’ team for today’s Costa Mesa Kiwanis Orange County All-Star Basketball Game is watching practices.
It’s there that Avitabile has gotten a good look at Edison’s Christina Patterson.
“When you see Christina out there, you don’t automatically go, ‘There’s a big-time player,’ because she plays so quiet,” said Avitabile, who coached El Toro to the Southern Section Division I-AA title game.
“But when you break down the film, she’s the person who wins games. You don’t have stats in the paper for what Christina Patterson does.”
Patterson’s role at Edison last season was critical for a team that was ranked fourth in Orange County (as high as No. 2) before losing in the Division I-A quarterfinals to Mater Dei, 44-42.
Patterson, a 5-foot-9 forward, says she’s happy to attend community college to play basketball before going to a university and eventually teaching elementary school. She has one final chance to display her unselfish play on an all-star team that features Debby Caine, Cathy Joens, Aprile Powell, Gioconda Mendiola and Chanda McLeod.
“I’m not concerned about getting my looks, I just want to play hard,” Patterson said. “I’ll try to do whatever I can, but if it’s not there, I’m not going to get upset about it. I’ll be happy to go in there and stop the girl that I’m guarding.”
It’s that attitude and her flypaper defense that helped Edison go undefeated in the Sunset League. Patterson was often put on the opponent’s best player, and over the years, she developed a real animosity toward McLeod, who played for rival Marina.
“It’s nice to get rid of all the grudges you have and just have fun,” said Patterson, who marveled at the notion of making amends during the all-star team’s six practices. “We pretty much hated each other during the season. We’re very competitive.
“She’s actually a really nice person. She said that it’s funny how everyone hates each other when they play, and then you get to know them [out here] and you feel bad about saying all those bad things about them.”
It’s difficult to find many bad things to say about Patterson, who averaged 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, four assists and three steals. An excellent defender who can take on a point guard or power forward, Patterson was a Times All-Orange County second-team selection as a junior, but admits her senior season didn’t go as well as she had hoped. She had averaged 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds as a junior.
Edison finished 24-6 against one of the county’s toughest schedules.
Patterson had seized the reins of leadership at the beginning of her junior season, when the Chargers had only two seniors, neither of whom started.
"[Last season, juniors] Allison Libeu, Trisha Grady and I had to step up our game on the floor and take that leadership role,” Patterson said. “I felt the need to be a leader on and off the court.”
The young Chargers’ top six players this season were those three seniors, a sophomore and two freshmen.
“You go how your seniors go,” Edison Coach Dave White said. “They took their [leadership] roles in different ways whether it was vocal, quiet or by example.”
Young players would do well to watch Patterson. She made the Chargers tough by playing great defense and forcing a pass to a secondary scorer, moving without the ball, getting an opponent in foul trouble by slashing to the basket.
“It doesn’t really matter to me if it shows up in the box score or not,” Patterson said, “as long as we win the game.”