By Harold Abend
SANTA ROSA, Calif. – The old expression “that was then and this is now” could not be more appropriate in describing the Cardinal Newman girls basketball team.
The Cardinals were already pretty good with junior standout Kate Schat (21.2 ppg), who just got an offer from the University of San Francisco, and seniors Kaeda Angelo (9.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Janelle Pena (9.2 ppg) plus several others playing very well.
However now, not only are they the top team in the CIF North Coast Section, but Cardinal Newman has risen to No. 2 in Northern California behind national No. 1 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, and they’re now No. 6 in the state in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports state rankings – and the reason for the big rise comes in the form of a young woman that the Cardinal Newman community has waiting to see in a Cardinals jersey for quite some time.
Brazilian soccer stars are often referred to with one name only, like Pele and Ronaldo on the men’s side, and Marta and Sissi for the women. Now, a new one-named Brazilian star has exploded onto the high school basketball scene in California, and her name is “Tissa” and did she ever have coming out party at the MLK Showcase last Saturday in Stockton at St. Mary’s.
We received dozens of texts and emails from supportive coaches and fans wondering if Taissa “Tissa” Queiroz was going to be declared eligible after moving to the Santa Rosa area, and many who witnessed what Tissa did at the Girls California Live 23 event last June, where she picked up several D1 college offers, were hoping the charming and personable Brazilian star would get the go-ahead from the NCS and be declared eligible.
The answer came last Friday when she was got the thumbs up, and Tissa wasted little time re-arranging the rankings the very next day when Cardinal Newman took down previous state No. 6 Folsom in Stockton with a 57-49 victory.
With the score tied 49-49 Tissa took over and scored the final eight points of the game to finish with a double-double 27 points and 12 rebounds. The predictions by some coaches and analysts that Cardinal Newman would be a top five team in the state are now close to a reality.
The first game in North Bay League – Oak Division action for the 6-1 junior came on Tuesday at Analy-Sebastopol when Tissa went for 10 points and 11 rebounds in around 12 minutes of work of a lopsided 71-12 victory, but her home debut on the hardwood at Cardinal Newman was on Thursday in a match-up with Ukiah.
The crowd for what was expected to be another rocking-chair win for the Cardinals usually would have been small, but this was the home debut for Tissa, and the Cardinal Newman community was there in force.
“Now that I can finally play it was a great opportunity to show the Cardinal Newman community how I can bond with the girls and play like a team, like a family,” was the response of Tissa about finally getting to play a game at her new home.
As expected, the final score wasn’t close and Cardinal Newman (19-2) won in a lopsided 77-12 victory.
Tissa really didn’t break a sweat against Ukiah, and she seemed intent and getting her teammates, both starters and bench players involved, just like she said on talking about the Cardinals as being a family. However even in just around 15 minutes of action Tissa still filled the stat sheet and recorded a double-double 16 points and 12 rebounds with six steals and three assists.
Angelo finished with 14 points (two three-pointers) with seven steals, four rebounds and two assists, freshman Avery Vinson was named game MVP after dropping in 12 points, sophomore Lexi Aguilar came off the bench for 11 points (three three-pointers), and junior standout Schat added 10 points (two three-pointers) plus five assists and two steals.
The score and the stats are really kind of an afterthought because this was about Tissa and her finally getting the opportunity she came to the United States in search of.
Now it’s official. Welcome to your new home Tissa.