San Ramon Valley High has been rich in tradition when it comes to basketball.
Both the girls’ and boys’ teams have had many outstanding players come through their programs over the years.
This year adds another player to the list as Natalie Pasco is cementing her legacy every time she steps on the court for the girls’ team.
Pasco is the leader for a team that stands 22-2 overall this year, is one of the top teams in Northern California, and the No. 9 ranked team in the state currently.
She is also a perfect example that hard work and desire are the cornerstone of every truly great player.
“(Pasco) is a relentless worker,” said San Ramon Valley coach John Cristiano. “She is the girl that says, ‘Can I get in the gym? Can you set up a shooting program’?”
Blessed as a basketball player, Pasco is the total package.
“She has a basketball IQ that is off the charts,” said Cristiano of his senior leader. “She can create off the bounce and can shoot the three as well as anyone.”
Pasco, who now stands 5-foot, 11 inches, started playing basketball in first grade and has stuck with it ever since. By the time she hit fifth grade, it was basketball only.
Coming up through the CYO Basketball ranks, Pasco has been teammates with other seniors since she started in first grade. Their coach was Cindy Stern the entire time, and she is also a member for the SRV staff.
Sadie Carter, Elyse Wilkerson, Allison Stern, Jenna Reed, Lauren Sprague and Kailey Kimball have been together with Pasco for some time and have been consistently creating memories.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Pasco of the ride. “We’ve been able to hang out all this time and play basketball. It’s been awesome, fun, crazy and super great this whole time.”
And it’s made the Wolves a team to beat this year.
“These girls that have been on the varsity for four years is one of the reasons we have been so successful,” said Cristiano.
But it wasn’t always easy for Pasco, who is bound for Boise State next year.
Things started well in her freshman year as she was joined by four of her teammates on the varsity, where Pasco was one of the first off the bench for the loaded San Ramon team.
Pasco, a knock-down shooter since she stepped foot on the Danville campus, set the school freshman scoring record, scoring 367 points for the team that fell in the first round of the CIF Northern California tournament.
Her sophomore year wasn’t as smooth as Pasco tore a ligament in her ankle early in the season. She did come back as the season went on, playing in 12 games. Averaging 17 points overall, Pasco helped the Wolves win the North Coast Section title before the team fell in the second round of the NorCal playoffs.
Her junior season consisted of a shortened spring season because of the COVID pandemic. The team went 11-0, with Pasco averaging 28.9 per game, including three 40-plus point games.
That brings us to this season where the Wolves have been rolling. Averaging over 20 points game, Pasco has seen limited playing time because of the ease with which the Wolves are winning.
Unlike some teams, San Ramon spreads the wealth when it comes to playing time in lopsided wins.
“She is not playing much, if at all in the second half of games,” said Cristiano. “She would have a number of 50-point games if we played that way, but that’s not what we do.”
Pasco herself is one that deflects the spotlight from her and focuses more on the team. With her leadership, the Wolves focus on one task at a time.
“We had more challenging games in the preseason to get ready for the EBAL,” said Pasco. “The goal was to win league. After that, it would be to win NCS. There is always something out there to be chasing.”
Step No. 1 – winning the EBAL title is close to be accomplished – at least the regular season crown – as on Jan. 29, the Wolves took out rival Carondelet 64-60 in a battle of the powerhouses not just in the EBAL, but in NCS as well.
After a season of predominantly blowouts, the close one was actually a welcome relief.
“It was super fun,” said Pasco, who led all scorers with 24 points. “A game like that …it was super competitive and tough. After the game it was amazing celebrating.”
Of course, to accomplish winning the impending EBAL tournament and then NCS, it would mean beating Carondelet two more times.
“It certainly looks like that way,” said Pasco.
Regardless of how the season plays out, Pasco has established a legacy that will be long remembered in Danville, as well as the league.
Next up will be building her career at Boise State, a decision that was easy for Pasco.
“Honestly, it took one visit,” said Pasco. “I immediately knew it. It just felt right.”
The only adjustment for Pasco will be adjusting to the college game as compared to high school.
“She will hit the weight room before Boise,” said Cristiano. “She is dealing with 17- and 18-year-olds now, but will be facing women in college. Boise will want her to sprint down court and find her spot. She will be perfect for them.”