Satera Bates is averaging 17.5 points a game, including hitting 75 percent of her free throws, for the 12-5 Matadors.
A year ago, Mount Miguel basketball player Satera Bates did not start. She didn’t play much for a very good reason.
She wasn’t good enough.
The way she saw it, she could continue to be a good defensive player and by graduation, maybe play more. Or she could buckle down and find out what it would take to not just be better, but a lot better.
“Now she’s one of the top six or seven players in the county,” said Matadors girls basketball coach Rob Sandoval. “She is 100 percent improved.”
OK, since Sandoval sees Bates every day and appreciates her efforts, how about a somewhat less partial opposing coach?
“The difference is her approach to the game — her confidence has skyrocketed as well,” chimed in Bishop’s coach Marlon Wells, who it should be noted is also her EBO club coach. “It doesn’t surprise me because she always had a swagger so you knew if she ever really put in the time, she had the talent.”
That’s exactly what the 5-foot-6 junior guard did after last season.
“I played and worked hard on my game in practice,” she says, “and I worked in the games on what I learned in practice. I played against boys at MLK Park during the summer, and I practiced hard against (teammate) Laila Smith.
“When I got into games, I’d try as hard as I could to do what the coaches asked me to do. Last year I couldn’t do that. I started noticing that doing what they told me after practicing hard worked. It came step by step.”
Maybe it was maturity, but once Bates started gaining confidence she realized the things she was reluctant to do a year ago she now could try with confidence. And with success came more confidence and more success.
“A year ago if the clock was ticking down 5-4-3 ... I’d look here and there for someone else to take that last shot. I’d pass the ball to another player; anybody but me,” Bates said. “Now I look forward to taking the shot to win or get us to overtime.
“The way I see it, we had a lot of really good players last year but after they graduated, it was up to Rozlyn (Pierce) and me to become leaders and that’s what I wanted.”
What she couldn’t know is her newfound confidence would get a severe test when the 6-foot-2 Pierce went down with a torn ACL, putting all the pressure on Bates until recently, when Pierce returned.
“It’s my team now, so I was ready to put the team on my back and carry them as far as I could until Rozlyn returned,” said the uber-confident Bates, who is averaging 17.5 points a game, including hitting 75 percent of her free throws, for the 12-5 Matadors.
She’s a quiet leader.
“I’m not a yeller,” she said. “I might pull a teammate aside at the right time and say, ‘try this, or try that.’ The key is not to discourage them, but to get them involved in the game.”
Known mostly as a strong defensive player, she hasn’t lost that ability. But Bates clearly is shooting the ball more, driving the basket, pulling up for a short-range jumper, taking 3-point shots, slickly handling the ball and stepping up when needed.
“I want to play in college, and now I’m listening to the stories of those who played and went to college, and I’m trying to do everything I can to be a better player and teammate, whether it’s here (Mount Miguel) or with EBO.
“I’m not sure where I’m going to college. I want to be an ultrasound technician.”
A year ago, if you’d asked Bates, who carries a 3.4 GPA, her career goals, she probably would have shrugged her shoulders. Clearly, confidence carries over outside the gymnasium, too.