Junior standout trying to make Dons’ season a masterpiece

Give Mazatlan Harris a canvas or a court, and she’ll craft a work of art.

Harris, a 6-foot-3 junior wing at Cathedral Catholic High, leads the Dons in points and paintings. The mindset that helps Harris create inspirational drawings also pushes her to succeed for the top-ranked Dons.

“I’ve gotten some really cool pieces from her, and I’d love to see her do even more,” Cathedral coach Jackie Turpin said. “She’s just such a good kid and one that deserves all the positive things that are coming her way.”

As a sophomore, Harris led Cathedral Catholic in points per game (13.7) and rebounds per game (11.3). Her size allows her to be a dominating presence in the post, while her refined shooting touch gives Turpin a reliable scorer.

This season, she’s off to another hot start, averaging 10.8 points and 12 rebounds a game for the 4-3 Dons.

Harris’ bedroom contains ample evidence of not just her athletic achievements, but also her artistic ones. Motivated by nature and inspirational quotes, she’s often seen sketching on road trips. It’s when she’s talking about her artwork that Harris is most at ease.

Harris said the attention to detail and creativity needed to be an artist helps her with basketball.

“It’s just soothing and relaxing,” she said of her artwork. “It’s a time-killer and it’s fun for me.”

That calm, upbeat demeanor has been the life force of the Dons. Harris goes the extra mile for her teammates, on and off the court. Kaylee Stiffler, a senior forward, said she received a drawing of a sunset from Harris on her birthday.

“She brings energy and has a positivity that puts us in the right direction,” senior guard Angelina Roque said. “She definitely pushes us to be better as a team.”

If Harris feels like a natural on the court, it’s because she practically grew up on one.

Her parents — Spatticus and Jennie Harris — have been heavily involved with the San Diego Sol youth basketball club since Mazatlan was a toddler. Spatticus is a coach while Jennie is the organization’s vice president. Both played basketball for San Diego Christian College, where they first met.

Mazatlan started attending camps and practices when she was 3 years old, tagging along and watching her parents coach. She still plays for the Sol during the summer.

“It’s kind of become a second nature to her,” Jennie said. “All that she was ever around, with me at work and my husband at work, was basketball. It was like her second home, in the gym.”

Turpin, who also coaches for the Sol, started working with Mazatlan when she was in the third grade.

Even as a young girl, Harris was tall for her age (she was 6-0 as a freshman). Turpin watched Harris bloom into a talented inside presence who could take aim from the 3-point line like a guard.

As she starts her junior season, Harris already has quite a bit of interest from colleges. She said that USD, UC Irvine, UC Davis and Dixie State have offered scholarships.

The current masterpiece Harris and the Dons are working on is still unfinished, however.

Last season, Cathedral Catholic was bounced from the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs and state playoffs by San Marcos. Harris played with several Knights when they were fellow members of the Sol, and the familiarity has stoked a rivalry.

That final game in the state tourney was rough on Harris, who was held to just five points before fouling out. Turpin noticed that the loss motivated her to step her game up this offseason.

The Dons graduated just two players, and have only a pair of seniors on this year’s team. Harris will have two more chances to help guide the team to more wins at the state level.

“She was ready to be a big part of that game and understood what it meant when she was off the floor,” Turpin said. “It was something that propelled her throughout the summer — wanting more.”

Harris’ eyes are set on adding something just as beautiful as a painting to her bedroom art gallery — a state championship medal.