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Central Coast Classic: Let's remember the time Justine Roland and Mariah Cooks lit up PVHS in 2012
Central Coast Classic

Central Coast Classic: Let's remember the time Justine Roland and Mariah Cooks lit up PVHS in 2012

Justine Roland and Mariah Cooks had a lot of big nights together when they played for the Righetti girls basketball team.

One particularly big one was a January evening in 2012.

Roland scored a lot of points that night. She fed Cooks, Righetti’s center, inside for a lot of points too.

Cooks put in a game-high 25 points. Roland scored 20. Stella Dulay scored 17 for crosstown rival Pioneer Valley, but the Roland-Cooks combo was a bit too much for the Panthers. The Warriors won, 58-51, at Pioneer Valley.

Cooks’ shot was off in the first half, but she scored 17 points in the second.

“Mariah and Justine work really well together,” said Righetti coach Mike Gilless.

That they did, throughout their respective careers together at Righetti.

Not only did Roland and Cooks combine for 45 points that January night, they also did a job defensively.

Those two blanketed Shnyia Tell, Pioneer Valley’s up and coming 5 foot, 10 sophomore center, and held her to six points.

Tell had a big rebounding night that evening, but Roland and Cooks had a bigger one.

Despite all of Roland and Cooks’ scoring the Panthers, thanks to Dulay’s outside shooting, nearly pulled the game out.

The Warriors figured they’d better account for Dulay in the fourth quarter, and they did. Alex Lopez, and then Valerie Luque, effectively hawked Dulay.

“We knew we had to get out on their outside shooters,” in the fourth quarter, said Roland.

Pioneer Valley coach Eddie Gutierrez said, “They were faceguarding (Dulay) and we couldn’t get the ball.”

Tell went on to become one of the most decorated basketball players ever at Pioneer Valley.

Cooks and Roland were both Righetti seniors that year. Both went on to play at the four-year college level. Cooks went straight to Washington State after she graduated from Righetti.

Roland played for Hancock College and then Notre Dame De Namur.

Gutierrez followed his coaching time at Pioneer Valley with a stint coaching the Santa Maria girls basketball game. He died suddenly, days after leading the Saints to a near-upset of heavily favored Arroyo Grande in the playoffs.

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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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