Moving to Southern California from Canada may seem like it comes with its fair share of adjustments but for Valencia’s Yasmine Ahllamara, the transition was a smooth one, thanks to basketball.
“I think that’s what made my move so easy, is that I could find comfort and at least that was the same for me,” she said.
“I came from a very competitive team with a very competitive coach and then I came and transferred to Valencia and I was lucky to have a coach that cared about winning as much as I did and I was surrounded by a team I loved even more than my team at home.”
Ahllamara was able to thrive in Valencia’s environment, so much so that she earned this season’s All-Foothill League Player of the Year award.
Although the senior’s home city, Toronto, is on the other side of the continent, the basketball scene is very similar to that in Southern California. There was a tinge of apprehension when she decided to go out for the Valencia girls basketball team, but it quickly diminished when she met her soon-to-be teammates and coach, Kevin Honaker.
“I was just almost overwhelmed with how welcoming everyone was,” Ahllamara said. “I was really lucky to play for a coach like him. He gave me a fair chance, despite I was one of the only girls who hadn’t been on the team in previous years.”
The instant chemistry translated to the court, too. Ahllamara, a guard, was a combination of defensive prowess and 3-point accuracy. She averaged 10 points per game, 3.5 assists per game and 3.3 steals per game as the Vikings went on the be the undefeated Foothill League champions.
“I think getting a steal is more satisfying than scoring,” Ahllamara said. “I think I always believed that defense translates into offense and if I bring in defensively it’ll set the tone of for us offensively.”
“I’ve never really been shy of distance, so I like shooting 3’s, but nothing gets me more excited than when our offense works and the ball moves from everybody’s hands.”
Her 3-point abilities were a perfect fit for Valencia’s offensive schemes and resulted in Ahllamara’s favorite moment from the season: accomplishing the team goal of going 10-0 on the season en route to a Foothill League title.
“It was like checking off one of our boxes. It was one of our goals from the moment we started practicing and got to know each other,” she said. “We sat down and talked about goals and going 10-0 was one of the big ones. That moment when we actually accomplished it, we were just very excited.”
Ahllamara plans to play basketball in college while pursuing a business administration degree, followed by a doctorate with the goal of working in corporate law.
She also plans on coming back to watch plenty of Vikings basketball, since the team will only be losing two players to graduation.
“I’m really excited for them next year,” Ahllamara said. “A lot of the team is still sophomores and juniors. There’s so much potential in the group and me being so close with them, I can’t wait to see what they do next year.”
Mailey Ballard, sophomore, Valencia
Skylar Ingram, junior, Valencia
Libbie McMahan, junior, Saugus
Monique Febles, junior, Saugus
Chidinma Okafor, junior, Canyon
Emma Allen, junior, Hart
Marissa Howell, sophomore, Valencia
Leilani Manuel, junior, Valencia
Eden MacKenzie, sophomore, Saugus
Julia Fung, senior, Canyon
Emily Munoz, senior, Hart
Shyann Franklin, senior, Golden Valley
Ellie Villavicencio, senior, Canyon
Kim Manary, senior, Golden Valley
Trudy Larkins, senior, Hart
Madison Seyforth, junior, Saugus
Audrey Field, sophomore, Valencia
Elora Kawasawa, freshman, West Ranch