The Farmersville girls basketball team secures East Sequoia League championship for the first time ever, freshman Jazmaine Stewart surpasses 500 points
OROSI – With a 56-42 win over Orosi, the Farmersville Aztecs clinch the league championship. Freshman Jazmaine Stewart also surpassed 500 career points.
With a 25-2 overall record and an undefeated league record, the Farmersville Aztecs have clinched the league championship for the first time in school history after defeating the Orosi Cardinals for a second time on Tuesday, Feb. 7. They are the only undefeated team left in the East Sequoia League, with only one game remaining. Whether they win or lose their next game, the Aztecs will finish with the best record in the league.
“It feels good to be in the position that we’re in right now,” Farmersville assistant coach Mercedes Rosales said. “We knew that this game at Orosi was gonna be a tough one.”
The Aztecs didn’t make it seem like a tough battle, despite Orosi holding second place in league and beating every team except Farmersville. They shifted into gear in the second quarter, scoring 18 points to pull ahead 31-14 by halftime. Their full press defense contained the Cardinals offense so well that the Aztecs were able to gain a 25-point lead throughout the second and third quarters.
Of the Aztecs’ 56 points, 24 were thanks to freshman guard Jazmaine Stewart. With those 24 points, Stewart surpassed 500 career points in just her first season with the Aztecs. She has an uncanny ability to get open and impressive shooting skills, particularly outside the three-point line.
“It’s a huge thing as a freshman,” Stewart said. “I’m glad I did it because it’s a huge achievement as somebody from Farmersville. I feel great to be somebody who achieved that goal tonight.”
Stewart leads in several of the categories for her team, including points. She averages 20.9 points and 6.1 steals per game. On top of that, she makes 67% of her free throws. But Stewart isn’t carrying the team alone. What she does isn’t possible without sophomore Janessa Garza, who has been running the offense all season.
Garza has the most assists of anyone on the team with 76, followed by Ariana Rodriguez who has 27. Garza is the player who brings the ball down the court and directs the other players around the defense. She was key in getting the Aztecs into the position of winning the league championship.
“We’re having a great season this year,” Garza said. “Everyone’s staying as a family and staying together. I’m proud of us. It’s amazing we [secured the league championship].”
Many of the players on the basketball team, including Stewart and Garza, recently made history with the Farmersville volleyball team, who also won the league championship for the first time in school history. Other multi-sport athletes making history in both sports include senior Araiza Beltran, junior Jolina Castaneda and junior Nashali Zapata.
Much of the team’s chemistry from a successful volleyball playoff run has carried over into the basketball season. However, their hard work during the offseason with their teammates who are not on the volleyball team cannot be discounted. The basketball team began practicing together in the summer and worked together throughout the volleyball season to get ready.
“Defense has been our money right now,” Rosales said. “They’ve worked really hard not just to play a full-court press but to score off of it.”
With the team playing aggressive defense on top of a full-speed offense in order to come out fast and drive up the score quickly, they may often wear themselves out when trying to tire out their opponent. However, the Aztecs never truly seem to run out of steam. Against Orosi they could afford to back off their full-court press in the fourth quarter and save some energy for their final league game against Granite Hills on Feb. 9.
Though the regular league isn’t over, Farmersville have unofficially won the league. Even if they lose to Granite Hills, they will still only have one loss on their record, while all the other teams have lost at least twice. Win or lose against Granite Hills, the Aztecs will be the East Sequoia League champions. Playoff brackets will be announced over the weekend and the Aztecs are hoping for a top seed. Higher seeds are given the home court advantage during playoffs.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Rosales said. “Just helping them feel proud and excited.”