Colorado Mesa Mavericks prep for biggest week of their hoop lives by sharing favorite memories
Two blonde-haired girls, in their driveway in Rifle, nose-to-nose, playing one-on-one.
In their minds, though, they weren’t Sharaya and Katrina Selsor.
No, they were Monica and Sidra, two characters from the movie “Love and Basketball.”
“We were obsessed with that movie,” said Katrina, aka “Sidra.”
“It was right when it came out (2000). We probably shouldn’t have been watching it,” said Sharaya, aka “Monica.”
“I really liked Sidra, and she really liked Monica,” said Katrina, figuring the sisters were in fourth and fifth grade at the time.
“And we both loved Quincy,” chimed in her older sister. “Omar Epps. Marry me, any time. Call me, give me a shout-out. We were obsessed. We still kind of are.”
The sisters started playing basketball when they were 4 (Katrina) and 5 (Sharaya), taught by their parents. They’ve been on the same team all but two years, their freshman seasons in college.
Sharaya, one year older, went to Metro State after graduating from Glenwood Springs High School, where the family moved before her freshman year of high school.
A year later, Katrina graduated and signed to play at CSU-Pueblo. They both transferred to Mesa after their respective freshman seasons.
They’re not only teammates and sisters, but best friends.
On the driveway, though, when they were growing up, it wasn’t always friendly. A game of H-O-R-S-E usually did not end well.
“We couldn’t handle too much real competitiveness one-on-one when we were younger,” Sharaya said. “We’d get pissed.”
“It’d end up in a fight,” Katrina said.
And it wasn’t just two sisters squabbling. Fists would fly.
“We didn’t fight with words,” Sharaya said, both of them laughing. “We were shoving, pushing.”
But by becoming Monica and Sidra, they could play without fighting.
“That’s one (game) we made up to make basketball more interesting,” Katrina said.
They knew the dialogue in the movie by heart because they watched it so often, but they made up their own scenes on the driveway, even deciding beforehand who would win that day.
“Katrina and I were pretty creative in the games we played when we were younger,” Sharaya said of games they made up either on the basketball court of just being kids, riding their bikes.
“School bus!” they said in unison, when the sisters’ bikes became school buses, driving their routes through the neighborhood.
The sisters have one more week of basketball together, starting Tuesday when they play Dowling (N.Y.) College in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in San Antonio.
They get emotional if they start talking about the end of their athletic careers together and how much playing together means to them. But talking about how it all began, those silly games little girls play, had them doubling over in laughter.
“We had forgotten about that,” Sharaya said. “We laughed so hard thinking about it.
“I would tell you some other basketball games we played, but they’re just even more ridiculous than that one.”
They laugh now about how two elementary-school-aged girls in western Colorado could relate to the movie about high school and college-age players in Los Angeles.
“Quincy,” they laughed.
“We had love and basketball,” Sharaya said. “We were just a little younger.”
The 18 Mavericks — 14 on the active roster and four redshirts — have basketball as a common denominator. They all grew to love the game, even if they didn’t know much about it when they first picked up a basketball.
Leanndra Gilbert’s father encouraged her to add basketball to her activities, even though she was playing volleyball and soccer.
“I didn’t really know what basketball was or particularly care,” Gilbert said. “My dad was like, ‘You might like it. You should try it.’ I was like, ‘I don’t even know what basketball is.’
“He told me if I tried it, he would buy me a new pair of shoes. I was thinking I was going to get shoes to wear to school. It turned out to be basketball shoes.”
Now, Gilbert has the flashiest collection of Nikes on the team. That all started in high school, when she and her teammates at Mesa Ridge in Colorado Springs would wear orange socks or orange shoes.
And it’s continued to Colorado Mesa, although she’s yet to show up in bright yellow socks. Last season she got a new pair of Hyperdunk Nikes in Mesa’s team colors of maroon, gold and black. She still wears them most days, but often she will practice in a pair of neon green Hyperfuse Nikes.
“I prefer my Hyperdunks because they don’t tear up my feet. It’s all a fashion game: You look good, you play good,” she said, laughing. “(The Hyperdunks are) the best gift my mom gave me.”
It wasn’t so much the shoes that made Effo Baker fall in love with the game, but the guy wearing the shoes.
Watching her uncle, Phillip Chappel, or, as she calls him, “Uncle Bird,” hooked the Mavericks’ senior point guard on the game.
At the time, Baker was only 6 years old, but she was mesmerized by her uncle’s game.
“He had the sickest moves I had ever seen anybody do. As a 6-year-old you’re amazed, and I’m trying to dribble through my legs and trying to imitate him,” she said. “From that moment (I loved the game). He was having fun and loved the people he was playing with.”
Her uncle taught her some of his moves, paring them down to a 6-year-old’s level, but Baker has some moves of her own, slashing through the lane for a teardrop pull-up jumper or elevating her 5-foot-5 frame for a scoop layup in traffic.
“I looked up to him,” she said. “He was this huge figure to me.”