November 29, 2013

Bettencourt keeps the faith

Kevin McCarthy

Coaches live, preach and demand loyalty above all else from players. Nothing else comes close as a must-have trait. So when Oak Ridge High sharpshooter Ali Bettencourt, who it's worth noting sees college coaching in her future, lost her university coach to-be because of a promotion, she was delighted that the welcome mat was available to her at the new location.

photo of Ali Bettencourt

The 5-foot-10 Bettencourt verbally pledged to Sacramento State Coach Jamie Craighead back in July. However, a coaching opening at San Jose State University of the Mountain West Conference came to fruition in mid-September and Craighead was hired to take over the Spartan program.

This put the status of the 36th-ranked 2014 prospect in the NCP Top 40 up in the air. That is, until Craighead extended an offer to come to San Jose and then Bettencourt committed a second time. This past week, the first-team All-Delta River League (DRL) honoree signed and submitted her national letter-of-intent.

Call that doubling down on allegiance plus the move also still allows her family to catch home games.

“I bonded with Coach Craighead,” Bettencourt explained. “We had good communication I didn't want to start over with a whole new relationship and I knew I would enjoy playing for her.”

As to her down-the-road coaching ambitions: “I love the sport so much, I don't want to leave it.” Bettencourt is undecided on a major but look for it to have a connection to her future employment goal.

Asked her best skills, Bettencourt was succinct and direct: “I shoot.” But she was quick to credit her trainer for her accuracy. “Al Green made my shot what it is today My freshman year, my shot was completely different than it is now and I would get frustrated. I worked with Al, changed my shot and that helped me with my confidence and keeping my mind straight.”

The facets Bettencourt is working on to better are “my dribbling and taking defenders one-on-one.”

Rather than having a sibling rivalry, she counts her sister Carly as one of her biggest influences. “A lot of me wanting to play is because of my sister. I copied her.” When it came time to choose between soccer and basketball because of the time commitments involved, Bettencourt went with the latter, as her sister did earlier.

Her parents also rank right up there in influence “because they supported me in my decision.”

Bettencourt played exclusively as a shooting guard during the spring and summer with the Cal Sparks NorCal. But this coming season, she will be adding to her court repertoire, “I'm one of the taller player on our team so I'll also be working in the post.” Oak Ridge posted a 28-5 overall record last season,10-0 in the DRL.

Recounting her best moment to date on the court, Bettencourt said, “it was two games before we played at ARCO, against Wilcox and star Joeseta Fatuesi. I had 27 points, including seven three-pointers and the rest of our team also shot well.”

Oak Ridge won 49-32.

“I was thinking 'wow, that just really happened.'”

Then came a 51-50 road win over Heritage High before the Trojans fell 56-45 to Berkeley High in the Nor Cal championship game.

Cal Sparks Norcal Coach Michele Massari knows Bettercourt well.

“She's a pure shooter, someone who trains hard and loves basketball.”

Coach Craighead would certainly agree with that assessment and add in loyal.