As a high school freshman, playing college basketball was the furthest thing from Serina Covarrubias’ mind.

Heck, she had never even played the sport.

But four years later, following a variety of challenges and instability in her life, the recent East High graduate will have an opportunity to do both.

Covarrubias, known as Serina “C” or “Cee” to many who know her, has committed to play basketball next season at Bethesda University, a small private Christian school in Anaheim.

“I’m super excited because it’s something I never would have thought of,” Covarrubias said. “I had barely picked up a ball until my freshman year. So I’m excited to be around a new culture, and to play with different players. They have players coming from all over so hopefully I can learn something new.”

Despite standing barely 5-feet tall, Covarrubias made key contributions for the Blades in their run to the Southern California Regional Division V championship. The team qualified for the state championship, but the game was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a starting guard, she averaged 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.1 steals during her senior year. But East coach Bobby Sharp feels her greatest impact to the program is something stats don’t show.

“She’s very special to me,” Sharp said. “She has a tough background and she made it through. She’s just a great kid.

"She has overcome so much in her personal life with hardships. But she’s always been positive. She’s always been a leader. She had to win every windsprint. She had to be the first one in and the last one to leave. It hasn’t been easy for her, but she’s made a huge impact on the program. She’s the engine that makes us go and she’s the heart of our team. She just plays so hard. She’s just got a great personality and I’m extremely proud of her.”

Covarrubias is one of many local girls basketball players that have committed to play in college.

Recent Tehachapi High graduate Teagan Thurman has already started experiencing college life. She traveled back to Nampa, Idaho this week to work at a basketball camp at her future school, Northwest Nazarene University located near Boise.

The first-team BVarsity All-area selection, who averaged 22.1 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 5.4 steals per game is looking forward to her first experience of being away from friends and family.

“With the options I had, after I took my visit it just felt right as far as education and basketball,” said the 6-foot-1 Thurman, who wants to be a speech pathologist after her playing days are over. “The city reminds me a lot of Tehachapi. The school is amazing and the campus is great.”

In addition to Covarrubias and Thurman, several other local girls basketball players have plans to play in college, including Bakersfield High’s Taylor Linzie, this year’s BVarsity All-Area girls basketball player of the year.

Liberty’s Breanna Canfield is headed to UC Merced, with North High’s Aliyah Johnson slated to play at Cal State Monterey Bay.

A pair of Covarrubias’ teammates at East, Kanyah Patterson and Alaisha Landeros are taking the junior college route. Patterson is slated to attend Ventura College, while Landeros is headed to Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. She will be joined by former West High and BHS standout Ray Vaughn and Ridgeview grad Jyniaya Nolan-Davis. Her Wolf Pack teammate Kristin Everett has committed to play at Mira Costa in Oceanside.

Other area standouts have chosen to stay close to home and play at Bakersfield College. The list includes Highland’s Amaya Lawton, Elise Enriquez from Frontier, North’s Kim Chavez, Angie Gonzales of McFarland and Delano’s Laura Aricga.

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