Soledad Aztecs basketball
Soledad High junior center Valeria Segura, No. 32, celebrates with her teammates after the Aztecs girls' basketball team captured the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division title following a 42-30 win over Monte Vista Christian on Feb. 8. (Juan Reyes)

SOLEDAD — A sense of pressure was felt throughout the gymnasium when the Monte Vista Christian girls’ basketball team visited Soledad High in last week’s battle for first place in the Mission Division.

The Mustangs had to win in order just to keep their league title hopes alive, while the Aztecs were looking to close it out once and for all. In the end, the game resulted in the latter following a 42-30 win for Soledad in Pacific Coast Athletic League action Feb. 8.

The Aztec players celebrated their league-clinching victory on the court by setting off confetti poppers in front of what was a raucous crowd. They finished with a 16-6 overall record and went 10-2 in league play.

“It’s been a fun season. We played very hard to get to where we were and we deserve that,” said Soledad junior center Valeria Segura, who finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots and two steals on Thursday night. “It’s not over, we still got CCS. So, we’re still in that mood on where we’re going to play. But right now I’m pretty sure we’re pretty happy about winning league.”

Soledad Aztecs basketball
Soledad High freshman guard Delylah Ocampo scored a team-best 13 points during a league game against Monte Vista Christian on Feb. 8. The Aztecs beat the Mustangs, 42-30, to capture the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division title. (Juan Reyes)

Fellow teammate freshman Delylah Ocampo finished with a game-high 13 points to go along with four assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Senior forward Katherine Amaro added eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers and senior forward Kayla Vasquez contributed four points.

With the win, Soledad is bringing home its second league title in the program’s history since capturing the now-defunct Mission Trail Athletic League crown in the 2017-18 season.

“We really work together as a team,” Segura said. “We’re all friends, we hang out on and off the court. We just all have a really special connection.”

One of the biggest takeaways in last week’s win over MVC was forcing turnovers that transitioned into points. That was on top of numerous missed shots by Mustangs senior guard Rhazelle Gonzales and her teammates.

“Shots weren’t falling, but again I think that can’t be an excuse,” Gonzales said. “I believe in my coach and those girls. I think those shots will fall.”

Soledad Aztecs basketball
Soledad High sophomore forward Camila Lopez fights for a loose ball during a league game against Monte Vista Christian on Feb. 8. The Aztecs beat the Mustangs, 42-30, to capture the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division title. (Juan Reyes)

MVC was also missing a key component in junior guard Gia Herrera, who missed last week’s game against Soledad.

MVC coach Zach Nelson said playing on the road is always a challenge, especially when the opposing team is on the cusp of winning a league championship.

The Aztecs were aggressive on defense playing a 2-3 zone. Nelson said once the Mustangs finally hit some shots it was a little too late.

“We’re just fighting every day,” Nelson said. “We had [Herrera] in the last game we played them and I think she made an impact. Then not having her, we were trying to figure some things out. And obviously our shots weren’t falling.”

The Mustangs (14-10) placed third with an 8-4 record in the PCAL Mission Division standings, failing to clinch an automatic Central Coast Section playoff berth. Instead, they’ll have to wait until the section seeding meeting takes place on Wednesday at noon.

As for the Aztecs, they have some unfinished business after losing to Santa Cruz High in the CCS Division III semifinals in 2023.

“​​I feel like we could have won,” Segura said. “Last year, we could have had that game but we were tired. This year I feel like we can make it.”

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