Yes, Rita Fiorenza, the junior guard, attracts much of the attention for San Pedro High girls basketball, but whenever she's bottled up, she has two viable options to feed to, and they both feed off each other quite well.
Senior forwards Cheyenne Alvarez and Alejandra Macias have been with the program for three years and have slowly, but surely, have quietly put up some solid efforts for the Lady Pirates, who are on a four-game winning streak heading into the Cantwell Sacred-Heart Tournament, which begins on Thursday.
Alvarez, who made All-Marine League second team last season, is San Pedro's second leading scorer and rebounder, while Macias leads the team in rebounds. Both are tough defensively, and are integral parts to the Pirates' recent success after starting the season 1-3 in the Downey Tournament. You may not know it when you see them in action, but the front-court duo are almost like twins on the court.
"Playing with my best friend is amazing," Alvarez says of Macias. "When I'm on the court with her, I can already tell what she is going to do and I can make plays off the two of us. We have chemistry when we play and besides being competitive, we have a blast playing together."
Macias returns the favor right back at her best friend with an even more clear-cut description.
"Playing alongside my best friend Cheyenne is a blessing," Macias said. "Cheyenne and I together are like Bonnie and Clyde, we're killing them on the court. In my eyes, I see Cheyenne as a good captain, as she's always including other teammates in a play."
Alvarez and Macias started playing together as sophomores as Fiorenza made her debut. The three of them injected life into a program that was coming off a 1-20 season, and made the 2011-2012 year quite the renaissance story for San Pedro, going 10-13 and reaching the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I playoffs. In fact, both were integral to the Pirates reaching the playoffs again last season.
Both had their memorable moments in their first varsity seasons.
"My most memorable game was when we played Washington (Prep) at home," Alvarez says of the Pirates' 39-33 upset victory over the Generals. "We won and ended up making history because we hadn't beaten them in 20 years."
It was Alvarez who ended up with the ball with the final rebound that sealed the win over Washington.
Macias' most memorable game was when the Pirates pulled another minor Marine League upset with a solid 45-37 victory over visiting Gardena, who had blown out San Pedro in the first league meeting. "They came in thinking they were going to beat us and we end up beating them," Macias recalls. "Then after the game (Gardena) said they underestimated us."
Macias got her basketball start as soon as she began at San Pedro High for 2010-2011 but didn't play varsity until the year after, but Alvarez's start, which is around that same time, almost didn't happen.
"To be honest, I hated the sport and thought it was dumb," Alvarez said "Then (Macias) joined the team and begged me to play basketball with her. So I attended a practice and it turned out I was pretty good at it. After the season ended I couldn't find a way to stop playing basketball, it became my life."
Alvarez has scored double-digit points in all four of the Pirates' recent victories over Port Of Los Angeles, Panorama, King-Drew Medical and Banning to take some valuable pressure off Fiorenza, who's averaging 21 points a game during the streak.
With San Pedro no longer designated in Division I for the CIF-Los Angeles City Section playoffs, the best-friend tandem both truly feel the Pirates have a chance to do some damage in the Division III playoffs should they do well enough in the cutthroat Marine League that features two-time defending Division I champion Narbonne of Harbor City and semifinalist Carson.
"I am substantially excited for what my team can do," Alvarez says. "My teammates this year are stronger, quicker and hungrier for a title." Macias agrees: "I feel whether were in Division l or lll, San Pedro girls basketball will have a chance to win a championship."
If San Pedro does go all the way in Division III, expect Alvarez and Macias to play a huge part in that happening.