High school girls basketball: Cyprus seniors took separate paths to anchor Pirate squad together
"I'm not going to lie: I was scared at first," said Gilson, who currently leads the Pirates in scoring with 10.8 points per game. "You know those movies where the kids eat lunch in the bathroom? I thought that was going to be me. But the kids were so friendly." Very quickly, Gilson, who admits she has a "big personality," felt at home.
"I felt like I'd been in a bottle, like I couldn't act like myself," she said. "I felt like I was trying to get out of my shell."
Adams said Gilson is "definitely outside the mold, a vibrant personality."
"Now that I know her as well as I do, I understand why she felt bottled," he said. "She's a very outspoken person. She's a great leader."
Gilson said the school and community embraced her, and she quickly found her place on the team. That was important as she said without the game, she's not sure who she'd be.
"It's my love," she said. "If I didn't have basketball, I don’t know who I'd be actually. It's taught me so many life lessons, and I've met so many people who've helped me." Among those lessons is learning that anything worth having is earned.
"Nothing is given to you in life," she said. "You have to be willing to practice to be the best you can be." She said she may have learned those lessons, but it would have taken much longer without the metaphors of the game.
Gilson said her parents were initially nervous about her choice of Cyprus High.
"My mom was hesitant because of the drive," she said. "But it was the right choice. I love everything here." She does deal with some stereotypes when her neighborhood friends see her in her Pirate gear.
"(The stereotypes) bother me sometimes," she said, laughing. "First off, people ask about the water, and I cannot taste a difference. Then they say, 'Aren't you afraid?' But it's just like going to any other school. And there are a lot of different kids with a lot of different backgrounds here. I can let my personality out, be who I am."
Regardless of how they came to be teammates, Barrett, Caputo and Gilson now form the heart and soul of a team on a mission. Cyprus of Region 6 currently has a 7-3 record and is ranked No. 18 in the Deseret News Top 20.
Their three transfers bring their separate talents and their collective passion to every game, every challenge in hopes of leading the Pirates to a season that would make the school and community they all love proud. Just like the girls share leadership duties, they nearly evenly split scoring duties, with Gilson averaging 10.8 points, Barrett adding 9.9 points and Caputo contributing 9.38 points.
Adams and the players believe their commitment to each other will serve them well as they learn to create an identity for a team without a superstar.
Because of those three players, however, the team is the superstar this season.