It didn’t take long for Amaya Ervin to impact the game on Thursday night against Golden Valley.
The first time Ervin touched the ball, she used her speed to dribble around a double team, then attacked the lane and drew a foul to get to the free-throw line.
Midway through the first quarter, Ervin had scored five points to go along with four steals and two rebounds as the El Capitan High girls basketball team led 13-0 over the Cougars.
Ervin went on to score 24 points and finished with 10 steals, four rebounds and four assists as the Gauchos (9-7) opened Central California Conference play with a 66-22 win over the Cougars at Cougar Arena.
One of the biggest basketball stories this winter was Ervin’s transfer from Merced High to El Capitan. The addition of the reigning Sun-Star Player of the Year makes the Guachos an instant contender in the CCC.
El Capitan coach Tyler Rogers-Trammell was caught off guard with the news in October.
“I came to school one day and our athletic director, Lou Souza, called me into his office,” Rogers-Trammell said. “He was messing with me because he knew I knew who she was. He said we got this transfer Mia, Mya, oh wait, Amaya Ervin. I was like, what? The next day she was at school. I didn’t know the reason why, but It was good to see her.”
Ervin didn’t want to go into detail about why she transferred. She just felt there were too many distractions that caused her to lose focus. Her classwork began to suffer.
Merced High athletic director Paul Hogue called it an administrative transfer for personal reasons.
“It’s my senior year and my number one focus is school and basketball,” Ervin said. “There was just a lot of people who were distracting me and taking away my focus. I talked with my mom for a long time and in the end, we decided it was best if I transfer to El Cap.”
Because the transfer wasn’t deemed for athletic purposes, Ervin didn’t have to sit out.
In 16 games, the point guard is averaging 21.1 points, 7.7 steals and 5.3 rebounds per game.
“Playing against her you could see her skill and talent,” Rogers-Trammell said. “I had heard talk from other people about attitude and effort, but since she’s been with us, she’s given us 100 percent full effort and her attitude has been nothing but positive. She’s been a blessing.”
The Gauchos have seen their scoring jump from 38.1 points per game last year to 52.4 points this season. El Capitan also added a transfer from Atwater in Daniela Belmonte, who is averaging 8.3 points per game in her three games since becoming eligible after a sit-out period. Sophomore Harmonie Farr is also averaging 7.6.
“With the additions we have this year, we feel we can compete with anyone in our league from top to bottom,” said Rogers-Trammell.
The Gauchos’ 11 wins last year was a program best. This year, El Capitan hopes to make the playoffs for the first time since fielding its first varsity team in 2014.
“That’s definitely a goal this year,” Ervin said. “We’re taking it day by day. We’ve got to take baby steps. We got the ‘W’ tonight. We have to be patient.”
That patience could be tested next week when Ervin returns to Merced on Tuesday when the Gauchos face her former Bears teammates.
“Leaving some of them was difficult,” Ervin said. “I played with some of those girls for three or four years. That’s going to be an interesting game.”