Priory senior Sydney Donovan represents both the end of an era and the beginning of an era.
Donovan was a freshman when Priory’s girls basketball team was beginning to establish itself under coaches Buck Matthews and Sebastian Poitier.
Donovan played alongside Ila Lane and Aniyah Augmon and was influenced by Tatiana Reese, all three of whom play college ball.
This year she helped Priory win its fifth Central Coast Section Division V title, scoring 13 points in Priory’s 55-45 victory over Crystal Springs Uplands on Saturday.
In Donovan’s four years, Priory won three CCS titles and qualified for its first-ever Open Division tournament, reaching the semifinals. The Panthers would have played in the NorCal tournament last season had there been one.
"It’s such an accomplishment for all of us who have put in the work,” Donovan said. “I’m honored to have been part of it for four years.”
This year may have been the toughest one yet. Priory (14-9) had four games cancelled and lost two weeks of practice due to the COVID protocol. At one point, the Panthers lost five straight.
“I keep telling them we’re not trying to win state in December,” Matthews said. “Forget the wins, it’s about how we’re playing. And playing good teams will prepare us for CCS.”
Donovan’s senior teammate Valentia Saric committed to playing at Morehead State in Kentucky, keeping the developing tradition of playing in college alive.
Saric was all set to attend Division II Hawaii Pacific when she received an offer from the Eagles’ coaching staff.
“They were here to watch Bineta (Diatta, who graduated last year) and said they noticed me,” Saric said. “Since I committed in December, I haven’t been able to visit yet. As the season winds down the next couple of weeks, I’m going to try and get out there.”
Saric has the versatility to play several spots on the floor and it appears Morehead State is looking at her as a small forward.
Saric scored 10 of her 15 points in the second quarter, when Priory began to separate itself from the Gryphons. Her future coaches will like knowing she was 9-of-11 from the foul line.
“My 3’s have not been falling lately so I started driving to the basket,” she said. “It felt great.”
Saric added seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals.
Shamira Bidaye added eight points and seven rebounds. Senior Bianchi Shi scored 12 points.