Every athlete aims to get better.
Syenna Ramirez mastered the art of getting better.
Ramirez was a solid offensive contributor during her first two seasons at St. Joseph High. She scored about 8.5 points a game and added some rebounding and play-making with good, reliable defense.
Then came Ramirez's junior year.
The 5-foot-6 combo guard nearly doubled her scoring output, averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game.
Ramirez got even better as a senior, bumping her scoring average to over 17 points a game. She went from role player to the best player on her team in a flash. She culminated her St. Joseph career with a 427-point senior season. In addition to scoring 17 points, Ramirez added 2.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game that season.
Ramirez scored 1,300 points in her four-year career with the Knights.
"If you don't have the mentality, you're never going to get better," Ramirez said after her St. Joseph career ended in 2015. "I put in time, I focused on my mentality more than anything else."
Ramirez is the 14th Player of the Decade nominee, and the fifth to play with St. Joseph, joining Kaitlyn Flowers, Aly Beebe, Tatiana Dunlap and Heather Madrigal. Ramirez earned All-Area Offensive Player of the Year and All-CIF honors during her senior season at St. Joseph.
"I feel like it was one of the best experiences I've ever had," Ramirez said of her St. Joseph career. "Nobody can take it away, nobody can substitute anything in my life that occurred in high school, not only playing the game but being a part of a team that was a family.
"Nobody can ever replace that."
Ramirez did not stop getting better in high school. After graduating from St. Joseph in 2015, Ramirez went on to play two productive seasons at Hancock College. In her freshman year at Hancock, Ramirez was named First Team All-Conference after she led the Bulldogs with 16.4 points a game. She added five rebounds, four assists and two steals that year. Ramirez battled through injuries in her sophomore season at Hancock but still averaged 10 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
"We were really fortunate to be able to recruit her to our program and she's been so instrumental in the early part of our season," Hancock coach Cary Nerelli said of Ramirez's impact early on in her career with the Bulldogs. "I think we're really turning the corner at Hancock and it's players like Syenna that are helping us do that."
Ramirez helped the Hancock women make the CCCAA playoffs for the first time in 22 years during the 2016-17 season.
Ramirez was a crafty guard that started with a reliable outside shot and developed her game around that, improving her ball-handling and ability to score off the dribble. She was always a talented defender, with long, quick arms able to deflect passes and shots and create turnovers.
The other Player of the Decade nominees include Pioneer Valley's Shnyia Tell; Santa Ynez grad Hailey King; Righetti graduates Mariah Cooks, Danita Estorga and Molly Schlemer; Arroyo Grande's Ashlyn Herlihy; Valley Christian's Simone Swain; Lompoc's Danielle Morgan and Cabrillo's Erin Jenkins. The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade.
The rest of the Player of the Decade nominees will be announced before a tournament-style voting contest will be held to determine the girls basketball Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and Southern San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where in between 2009-10 and 2019-20 are eligible.
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