It’s rare to get anything right the first time. Whether it be finding the right job, the right car or even the right school, there are bound to be some issues on that initial attempt.
The important thing is to accept that fact, move on and try to find that perfect fit the next time.
Bishop Diego’s Elliott Redkey and Julia De La Cruz, members of the Cardinals girls basketball team, know all about finding their perfect fit the second time around.
Redkey, a junior, and De La Cruz, a senior, both started their playing careers over at Santa Barbara High. In fact, the two even played a year together on the junior varsity team.
“We were like a dynamic duo there, we had a lot of freedom,” Redkey said.
After her freshman year, Redkey decided Santa Barbara was not the right fit for her and transferred to Bishop, where she practiced with the team during summer.
“I transferred to Bishop due to the academics because they were really high here and it turns out the basketball program was pretty awesome too,” Redkey recalled.
“(Santa Barbara) just was not the right fit for me. I think I needed a smaller environment for me to thrive.”
The day before the 2018-19 school started, the girls basketball team had a BBQ.
On that day, Redkey saw a familiar face.
“When I transferred, I had no idea Julia would be coming. I just saw her the day before school started and said ‘you’re going here?’ and she’s like ‘yeah, we are going to play together,’ so that’s how that went,” Redkey said with a huge smile on her face.
Like Redkey, De La Cruz said the academics are what pushed her to transfer to Bishop right before her junior year.
That made Redkey all the more excited in her first year in a Cardinal uniform.
“We were both point guards so we fed off each other and we worked well with each other so we already knew we had chemistry together on the court so when I found out she was coming to Bishop I was like ‘oh man I have my wingman,’” Redkey said.
Unfortunately for Redkey, injuries derailed her sophomore season. She tore her groin during the early parts of the season and only managed to play in about five games.
“Honestly, it was a really low point in my high school career. It’s weird when you’re so invested in a sport, I used to play club and practice every day, and then you can’t play anymore,” Redkey said.
“All I wanted to do was play. Things just felt really slow without basketball.”
While Redkey was focused on recovering, it was De La Cruz who picked up the slack and led the Cardinals.
The team struggled a bit, managing just an 8-14 overall record, but De La Cruz came into her own, averaging 14.9 points per contest. The then-junior guard won MVP honors from her team and made First Team All-Frontier League.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come here and be a superstar or MVP. To be honest, I thought Elliott was going to do that, I always thought she was better than me but when she got hurt, I had no option but to step up,” De La Cruz said.
This season, De La Cruz’s 8.6 points per game rank second on the team. Right in front of her is her running mate, Redkey, who averages 8.9 points per contest.
Combined, the two tally 37% of Bishop’s total points scored this season.
“Having Elliott on the court gives us a whole other step up. I think it gives us more confidence and it gives me more confidence because I know I have someone there that can take over for me if it’s not my day,” De La Cruz said.
Before this season, Bishop Diego had not won a playoff game since 2015, which was also the last time the Cardinals won CIF.
This year, Redkey and De La Cruz have led Bishop to a 22-8 overall record and just one game away from being at the championship game in the CIF-SS Div. 5A Bracket.
Bishop will host Calvery Chapel of Santa Ana Saturday at 6 p.m. in the semifinals.
“That was our goal at the beginning of the season and I think we knew we were going to be here if we could get past those obstacles,” De La Cruz said.
One of those obstacles came on Wednesday night, as the Cardinals traveled to Woodcrest Christian for a quarterfinal game.
Before the game, De La Cruz admitted she had a bad feeling.
“I was already in my head thinking it was going to be my last game. I was tearing up because I had a feeling we were going to lose and I was just hoping I could at least have a good last game,” De La Cruz said.
All of De La Cruz’s fears were coming true in the first 16 minutes, as the Cardinals trailed 17-8 at halftime.
“I almost completely gave up,” De La Cruz said.
“On the team, on everything but I learned from a previous mistake that I couldn’t do that to my teammates, to my team, to anyone so I just had to step it up.”
And the senior delivered, scoring 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, helping Bishop win 39-34 and sending them to the semifinal.
“It’s a great feeling. I didn’t think we would get past that game and I was hyped but now I am just focused on the next game,” De La Cruz said.
“I am definitely really nervous but I have a good team behind me, a good coach, a good program so I will shake those nerves, go out there, ball out and leave it all out there.”
As for Redkey, she’s had a great year but still has been dealing with her own ailments.
Just after New Year’s, Redkey contracted tonsilitis and has been dealing with the illness ever since. That later developed into her catching bronchitis.
She has been dealing with flareups for the majority of the postseason run but says she feels good heading into Saturday’s contest.
“It was terrible. I couldn’t breathe, I had an inhaler and I was just coughing left and right so it wasn’t fun but we still got it done,” Redkey said.
Redkey again showed her toughness Wednesday at Woodcrest. The junior hurt her leg midway through the fourth and was on the ground for a few minutes.
She came back into the contest with just over two minutes left and also made a difference getting the Cardinals to Saturday’s semifinal.
“We still had like under three minutes left and there was no way I was going let this be my last game where I’m out injured, obviously I love this game and I love my team,” Redkey said.
“I’m not going to let it go down like that so no matter if I can’t like score off the bat and I can’t like sprint, I’m going to do what I need to do to make sure that my team can pull off the win.”
No one would have blamed Redkey had she gotten her tonsils removed and sat the rest of the season, but the junior would never have let that happen.
“I know my team needs me. I know who we are, I know we can do it but I know Julia needs me sometimes like I need Julia. There’s not a game I want to go in without Julia,” Redkey said.
Heading into Saturday, Redkey and De La Cruz are excited to play at the Brickhouse Gym, a familiar home, and a perfect fit for both of these transfers.
“It gives us a safety net because everyone is here to see us, encouraging us and giving us motivation and we aren’t just playing for ourselves, we are playing for them because they want to see us do big things,” De La Cruz said.
“I feel safe playing on the court here. We know the floor, we know everything, every nook, and cranny and having everyone there, not just the ones that travel with us, will make it feel homey,” Redkey said.