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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Player of the Week makes women’s basketball history

SFSU’s women’s basketball captain beats record and wins player of the week in the last game of the season
Andrew Fogel
Alley Alvarado, a guard for the SFSU women’s basketball team, poses for a portrait in the Gymnasium on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (Andrew Fogel / Golden Gate Xpress)

At the end of the third quarter in the last basketball game of the season between the Gators of San Francisco State University and the Pioneers of California State University East Bay, Larry Alvarado holds up a hand of five fingers and shouts to his daughter, “five points!” confusing Alexsandra Alvarado.

Five points to what?

Larry is keeping track in the stands of how many points, fouls and stats she is producing all while tracking how many points she is from beating an SFSU women’s basketball record on Feb. 29.

Alexsandra Alvarado, known to everyone as Alley, is the captain and guard for the Gators. The California Collegiate Athletic Association board awarded her the Player of the Week honor for her performance in the last game of the 2023-2024 season.

Alley scored 42 points, breaking the SFSU record for most points in a game and ranking second all-time in the CCAA. The title was previously held by Jeanette “Prime” Stevens, who scored 31 points in 2017.

Alley picked up a basketball for the first time when she was 8 years old and instantly felt connected to the sport.

“We tried soccer, softball and as soon as she grabbed that basketball, that was what she wanted to do,” said Erica Alvarado, Alley’s mom.

Alley’s parents talked about how the crowd loved her and how she was always up against the boys in the El Cerrito co-ed league near Richmond, California, where the Alvarados grew up.

“She was tough, but she was this cute little girl,” Larry said. “She was playing soccer, so she was a really good defender. She just would just chase the ball down, just get a jump ball and just tie it up.”

The recognition motivated her to pursue basketball and move on from soccer. Soon after that, Larry and Alley were approached to start a team.

“I did a little helping out in the rec league, but I’ve never coached and they made me look like I was some superstar coach,” Larry said. “I got all these trophies and all this stuff all because of her.”

Alley would then attend the Michael Jordan Camp at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Alley asked Jordan a question that aired on ESPN and won the Hustle Award the summer before she started high school.

Alley Alvarado, a guard for the SFSU women’s basketball team, poses for a portrait in the Gymnasium on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (Andrew Fogel / Golden Gate Xpress) (Andrew Fogel)

For Alley, basketball wasn’t just something she loved and was passionate about; it was also a pathway to going to college on scholarship.

Head coach for the women’s basketball team, Natasha Smith, said she likes to recount the story to Alley about the first time she watched her play in Richmond.

“I was an assistant coach at [the University of San Francisco] at the time,” Smith said. “I went to go watch a different player practice and there was this little eighth-grade Mexican girl, just killing it, shooting threes and all this stuff.”

Alley got a call from Smith’s former assistant coach four years later.

“‘Hey, we’re really interested in you, my head coach is going to call you,’” Alley said. “And then next thing you know, she calls me. She’s like, ‘Hey, I love your game, I want to offer you a position.’ It was like that quick.”

Alley is considered a red-shirt sophomore, meaning she’s academically in her third year but plays on the team as a sophomore. She took a season off due to familial and academic circumstances.

Last year, Alley’s uncle had a spinal cord stroke. He was told that he wouldn’t be able to walk again and that he would be paralyzed from the neck down.

“A year later, he’s walking now,” Alley said. “He came to my game for the 42 points. And then just recently, a month and a half ago, my aunt [who] has diabetes let an infection get really bad to where they had to cut her toe off.”

But the anesthesia given to Alley’s aunt stopped her heart and “she was gone for 20 minutes.” Her aunt is now at home and doing well, with no effects on her brain. Alley calls it a miracle.

Alley’s energy and intensity never seemed to fade even when times were hard for her, said Nyana Asiasi, her teammate and longtime friend.

“She carries all of that on her shoulders to bring the whole team energy, every single game, pipes us up, gives us the pep talks and she leads by example,” Asiasi said.

The game Larry profusely called out “five more points” to Alley was a game the Gators lost.

Alley and Asiasi discussed how intense that last game against the Pioneers was.

“We were up by four or five, it was like a very close game the whole time and then we ended up going to overtime but it was a really good game though,” Alley said.

Alley was unsure she’d be recognized for Player of the Week. Alley learned she won the award when her boyfriend, Tyjean Burrell, called to congratulate her.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I went on Instagram and it was the first post that popped up,” Alley said.

Danny Barnts, director of communications for the CCAA, said the Player of the Week committee votes for players who had the best week based on statistics.

Alley, who’s double majoring in criminal justice and Ethnic Studies, hopes to counsel young people in the criminal justice system after a professional basketball career abroad.

Smith believes Alley can play professionally and lead the SFSU women’s team to the California Collegiate Athletic Association championships next season.

“If she does that, she will for sure be inducted into the Hall of Fame here at San Francisco State,” Smith said.

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About the Contributors
Natalie Rocha
Natalie Rocha, Staff Reporter
Natalie Rocha (she/her) is a staff writer at Golden Gate Xpress. She’s a journalism major with a minor in international relations. She was born and raised in the Salinas Valley where her interest in reporting began and she transferred to SF State. Last semester, Natalie studied abroad in Denmark at the Danish School of Media and Journalism where she covered stories on crime and the EU. In her free time, Natalie enjoys eating food, spending time with her family and hanging out with friends.
Andrew Fogel
Andrew Fogel, Photographer
Andrew Fogel is a photographer for Golden Gate Xpress and Xpress Magazine who’s majoring in photojournalism and minoring in labor and employment studies. If he’s not taking photos, Andrew can be found rooting for the various Philadelphia sports teams. He aspires to be either a staff photographer or a sports photographer in the future.

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