David Asuncion comes from a heritage of courage and strength.The third-year University City High girls basketball coach traces his roots back to his father’s father, Denny, in the Philippines.
“My grandfather emigrated here to San Francisco,” relates Asuncion, who also serves as UCHS’s athletic director. “My father took me out to work in the fields [in central California]. We cut asparagus and picked grapes.” He would like to instill that hard-nosed grit in his players.
The Centurions return six members, including three starters, from last year’s 22-7 squad that finished 10-2 in the Eastern League, second only to Our Lady of Peace. UC, seeded seventh in the Division 2 playoffs, reached the second round, falling 49-35 to No. 2 seed El Capitan.
Kilee Horner, a 5-foot-11-inch junior forward, pulled down 9.1 rebounds a game last year. She added 8 points per game, second only to graduated point guard Morgan Wills (17.3 ppg). She also averaged 1 blocked shot a game.
“Our post player [Horner] came up midway through her freshman year [Asuncion’s first year as coach],” he says. “She’s now a junior.” In other words, though Wills and fellow senior captain Sammie Staples graduated from last year’s squad — “They laid the groundwork of how these girls do things” — Asuncion now has players who have grown up under his system.
The other two returning starters are Claire Mayew-Sherman and Riley Reinhardt, both 5-foot-9-inch seniors. Mayew-Sherman is expected to move into Wills’ point guard spot, though those will be big shoes to fill. She averaged 5.1 points, 2.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals a game in 2018-19. She originally transferred from Wisconsin.
“[Mayew-Sherman] has great vision. She gets everyone involved,” says Asuncion. “She’s always asking, ‘What can I do to help, coach?’ Our two captains last year were more leaders by example. [Claire] is more vocal.”
Other returners include Jayden Berke, a 5-foot-7-inch junior guard; Sofia Bly, a 5-foot-8-inch senior forward; and Kat Kaminsky, a 5-foot-3-inch senior guard.
Alyssa Nelson, a junior transfer from Kearny High, figures to add a ton of rebounds alongside Horner. She grabbed 13.4 rebounds per game for the Komets as a sophomore, adding 9.2 points and 3.3 steals a game. Nelson happens to be the granddaughter of long-time boys basketball coach Terry Stonebraker.
Newcomers to the varsity team include junior guard Soline Grimbert; Lexi Peterson, a senior guard; and junior guard Angelica Smith.
“We’re still going to hang our hat on defense,” says Asuncion when asked his emphasis. “Then, these girls want to rebound, so if we rebound, we’ll be in every game.”
In his stress on defense, the coach preaches the “three Cs” — “contain, contest, and control.”
“We take pride in what we’re doing, and work together as a team. We want to build those relationships [among the players] that will last a lifetime.”