After a decorated senior season in which she was an integral part of a history-making Orcutt Academy girls basketball team, Mariah Lopez hopes to continue her basketball career at the next stop in her educational career.

“I’ve been accepted to the Naval Academy prep school in Newport, Rhode Island,” said Lopez.

"I want to pursue basketball. I'll try to walk on to the Naval Academy prep school team as a power forward.” The 6-foot-1 Lopez played center at Orcutt Academy.

She was the Orcutt Academy nominee for the 2020 Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Female Athlete of the Year scholarship. Lopez carried a 4.0 GPA at Orcutt. The NSBCART typically awards its scholarships at its annual awards dinner. The organization cancelled its 2020 dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lopez was an All-Area center her senior season for a 2020 Orcutt Academy girls basketball team that won a playoff game for the first time in school history.

Santa Maria high schools honor Class of 2020 with virtual ceremonies

In fact, the Spartans won two playoff games before losing to eventual CIF Central Section Division 4 champion Caruthers in the semifinals.

Lopez said the Naval Academy prep school has a 10-month program.

“Once you go through that, if they decide you can handle the coursework load, they will put you through to the Naval Academy,” in Annapolis, Maryland.

Lopez said she hopes for a career in the Navy.

“If I get into the Naval Academy, I will probably be a chemistry major. I hope to go into forensics in the Navy.”

She will leave behind quite an academic and athletic career at Orcutt Academy.

Besides her 4.0 GPA, Lopez was the first Orcutt Academy student to be a three-sport athlete.

She holds the school record for blocks in volleyball, the school record in the girls shot put and discus in track, and multiple school records in basketball.

Lopez also detailed her volunteer activity for numerous community organizations on her scholarship application.

Since the pandemic caused the closure of schools and gyms statewide, Lopez has worked out as best she can on her own.

“I’ve been doing lots of running, lots of body work,” she said. “Since I haven’t been able to get into a gym I’ve been doing it the old-fashioned way, shooting baskets at a hoop at my house.”

Lopez was not a fan of online learning, saying “I would rather be in the classroom because I’m more of a hands on learner."

“I have no issues with online learning, but I find being in the classroom more enjoyable.”

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You can support the hard work of our local sports team by signing up for a News+ Membership


Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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