By Ray Hamill — One thing you can say about Rayn Tripp, she never seems to quit.
In her four years playing varsity basketball at Mack High, Tripp and many of her teammates were relentless, fast building a reputation as the team that would not roll over and die.
The Panthers senior announced this week that she is taking her talents to Santa Barbara City College to play for the Vaqueros, and she’ll take that trademark resolve with her.
“Honestly, the thing I’ll remember the most (from my time at Mack) is how we persevered,” Tripp said. “I feel almost every year in high school we had something going on, but I feel we always came out of it with a good season ending.”
This past season, the Panthers were all but done and dusted with two weeks remaining in the regular season, before Tripp and fellow seniors like Rian Heenan inspired their teammates to win five of their final six games to qualify for both the Dick Niclai tournament and the North Coast Section playoffs.
The turnaround came courtesy of some crucial senior leadership from a group that also included Hailee Henry, Hope Kibby and Kyrie Weigand.
“We had a lot of team meetings, and the captains and seniors, we realized this was our last year and we had to do something to get this team bonded,” Tripp said. “And then it just went on from there.”
It was a fitting way to close out their high school careers, and Tripp will now take that steely determination to play at Santa Barbara instead of College of the Redwoods, which had pursued the Mack standout.
Unfortunately for the Corsairs, Tripp has long had her sights set on attending college down south somewhere, following in the footsteps of her sister Chloe. who went to college in San Diego.
After reaching out to a number of schools in SoCal, Tripp was contacted by Vaqueros head coach Sandrine Krul, who liked the Mack senior’s skill set.
Tripp didn’t hesitate.
“I really liked Santa Barbara right off the bat,” the senior said.
She will likely play shooting guard for the Vaqueros, who are replacing six sophomores from a nine-player roster that finished 15-9 and qualified for the playoffs last year.
But she’s happy to play anywhere.
“I’m hoping to play guard, but I’ll do whatever fits the team,” she said.
Tripp intends on majoring in nursing, and wants to keep playing basketball at a four-year school after her time at Santa Barbara.
“That’s my plan,” she said. “I’m keeping my options open.”
She says her time at McKinleyville helped prepare her for the jump to the college level, especially the adversity the Panthers faced late in the season.
She also says she will remember her teammates, particularly the seniors she has played alongside for years.
“We really bonded,” she said.
Tripp, who has family in SoCal, added she’s looking forward to college life and is excited about the big move.
“I’m really hoping, obviously, for success (with the team) and hoping the season will be a different experience for me,” she said. “And I’m looking forward to meeting new teammates and the college experience.”
Tripp is the second Panthers senior to verbally commit to a college team, joining Heenan, who will play at CRnext year.