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Mei-Lyn Bautista from St. Mary's

St. Mary’s Head Coach sometimes has to remind himself that his starting point guard is only 15 years old. 15 year olds are prone to make mistakes, but they also give you pleasant surprises. Sophomore Mei-Lyn Bautista is usually good for the latter.

“Four or five times this season, Mei-Lyn and [fellow sophomore] Jordan Augustus have kept me in the gym for an extra hour,” Coach Flynn said. “They have a tremendous work ethic.”

And that work is beginning to pay off, as Bautista’s youth and dedication have had positive effects on the Gaels’ season – they’re undefeated and heading into the NSCHSAA championship game on Sunday. And as a floor general, Bautista has learned from her sophomore mistakes and conducted herself like a veteran more times than not. And coming from another school didn’t make things any easier, but both she and Coach Flynn insist that’s ancient history.

“As first the transition was tough,” said Bautista, who transferred in from Mary Louis Academy with Augustus at the beginning of the school year. “But everyone made us comfortable and welcomed us like family. We’ve had some hard practices this year, and the hard work is paying off.”

“Mei-Lyn is a St. Mary’s player now, she’s been here all season,” Coach Flynn added.

St. Mary’s guards are always a tough cover and Bautista is no different, though she brings a unique game. While in recent years the school has produced scintillating combo guards (Shannon Flynn, Neila Collins) and excellent shooters (Maddy Jankowski), Bautista sees her bread and butter as facilitating.

“My game is assists,” she said. “I like to make my teammates feel confident.” Bautista can nail the jumper when needed, but in a recent semi-final win over Kellenberg, she wore her playmaker hat, doling out 5 assists and controlling the tempo.

But as the Gaels vie for championships and the season comes to a close, Bautista will utilize an important summer to keep improving and working hard.

“I’ll be working on my jumper and my speed this summer,” she said. “I play AAU with the [NYC] Heat.”

Colleges will likely take note of the 15 year old at the helm as St. Mary’s continues to navigate through the playoffs. And whether you’re the talking growing pains or the astounding maturity for her age, Bautista will be a force to be reckoned with as she makes the transition to upperclassman.

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