Isabella Vazquez is leading the Eagles as the top girls basketball scorer in the city.
When Isabella Vazquez steps foot on the court, opposing coaches know exactly what they want to do.
“I hear it a lot,” Vazquez said. “They’ll yell, ‘Cover №12.’ I get it all the time.”
Unfortunately for those coaches, it’s a lot easier to yell it than to actually do it.
Vazquez is a junior forward on the George Washington High School basketball team, and the guard averages nearly 22 points per game. And as she goes, so do the Eagles.
Washington is 12–5 on the year, and this is despite having a team that looked a lot different than it did last year, when the Eagles had a strong season.
Last year, coach Chris Reid started five underclassmen, but three of the starters no longer attend the school.
Returning to the mix are Vazquez and crafty point guard Ireland Smith.
While they’re the only ones on the team who started a season ago, the rest of the team is responsible for helping it get back to the same success it enjoyed last year.
“When the season started, me and Ireland talked and we said we had to be the ones who lead the way because we did it before,” Vazquez said. “I was really happy to have her back because she’s great. She’s a great point guard. And the other girls are doing really well.
“I am scoring a lot, but I’m more of a team player and the other girls are making it easier for me because when I find them, they’re scoring. I try to share the ball, but when I have a chance to score I do it.
“The wins aren’t all because of me or … Ireland. Everybody does something. I’m scoring a lot so I get a lot of the credit, but the other girls are doing just as much as I am.”
The whole team is doing well, but it’s Vazquez who has become one of the top scorers in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
According to Reid, Vazquez is the third-highest scorer in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the top scorer in the city in girls basketball.
She’s also averaging eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks per game, and while she continues to work on her offensive moves, she’s also working to become an all-around player.
“I get so excited out there, I try and do whatever I can to help,” Vazquez said. “When I was younger, I was a good offensive player, but then I said I have that down, but then I wanted to get better at everything because it would help me and help the team.
“On offense, I love to get to the basket. The thing I worked hard on is my shot because people would always know I was going to take it to the basket. I worked on my shot a lot because that makes me harder to stop.”
Vazquez has been learning a lot while playing for her coach, but she’s also had great mentoring since she began playing the sport when she was a child.
Her mom, Joanie Efthimiou, was a star at Northeast High School before graduating in 1994.
Not only did she pass on plenty of advice and praise to her daughter, she passed on her jumpshot and athletic prowess.
“It’s great, when I see a referee who has been around for a while or really anyone who watched her play, they always tell me I play just like her,” Vazquez said. “Everyone tells me what a great player she was, so I love to hear that. I think I could beat her now because I play a lot, but I don’t know who was a better player.
“My mom has helped me so much because I’m always an underdog, and when I need someone to help me, she’s always there. She tells me what I need to work on, what I need to do better. She wants what’s best for me, so when she tells me I need to do something, I listen to her. She’s a great role model.”
Vazquez hopes to follow in her mom’s footsteps in many ways. Not only does she want to have the same success her mom’s Vikings had when they advanced to the Public League finals, but she would like to get selected to the All-Public team for the next two years. Her mom made it four times. Vazquez made it as a sophomore.
“I don’t have many personal goals, but I would like to get 1,000 points and make All-Public the next two years,” Vazquez said. “The thing I want to do more than anything is win.”
She’s also happy she has another year to accomplish that.
Last year, the Eagles were one of the top teams in the Public League, and this year the team is on pace to once again make the playoffs. Next year, Vazquez believes they’ll build off what they do this year.
“We’re getting better and better, and we’re all working on everything we can,” Vazquez said. “Our goal is to win this year. The Public League is tough, so we need to keep getting better and better. I’m happy we’ll have another chance next year, too.” ••