(Seton Catholic's Julia Barcello drives to the basket against Mountain View. Photo courtesy Rory Self)
Julia Barcello has been part of two-state championship teams in her four-year basketball career at Seton Catholic. Younger brother, Alex, a freshman at Corona del Sol, has watched big sister with envy as he waited his turn to reach high school.
Julia has continued her success in this her senior year at Seton. Seton is 19-1 and one of a handful of contenders for the Division II girls title. Alex has received a huge taste of varsity action in his first year on a two-time defending Division I boys team. His envy is receding now that he has arrived in the prep ranks. Not only arrived, but become a prominent contributor to another outstanding Corona del Sol team, which sports a 17-1 record.
The only thing that has strained their relationship happened earlier this year. Alex is now an inch, perhaps and inch and a half taller than Julia.
"I was hoping I'd still be taller than him through the rest of this year," Julia said with a sigh. "He is taller than me now."
It's an exciting season for the Barcellos. Julia and Alex are quite supportive of each other. Not just in talking with one another, but in attending each other's games. It's been trickier this year since both are playing. Alex was a mainstay at Julia's games the past couple years. With both competing on the same night quite often this season, and obviously at different sites, keeping up live with one another is impossible. Father, Edward, and mother, Shelli., plus younger siblings Sarah and Amanda, have done their darndest to keep up with all the action. Edward and Shelli have basketball backgrounds and Sarah and Amanda aren't too far away from attending Seton.
"My mom films our games so she's at all of mine," Julia Barcello said. "Dad goes to all of Alex's games. He watches my games on tape when they conflict, but he's there when they don't."
Late last month Seton competed in a tournament in Tucson while Corona was in the Valley at Mesa Mountain View playing in the VisitMesa.com Challenge. Shelli Barcello and Julia were in Tucson for three days -- Edward, Sarah and Amanda stayed in town to watch Alex. Corona had some overlap in its tournament and Julia got to see Alex play back in the Valley once her tournament finished just before the new year.
Alex attends as many games as he can of Julia's when he's not playing, she the same. They have a little fun with each other on those occasions and a few more watching tapes of one another.
"If I saw a game where he had a shot blocked, I make sure to tell him he got swatted," Julia said. "If I make a dumb play, he'll point it out to me. We enjoy watching each other play."
Julia Barcello, who is bound for basketball and to study geology at Colgate this fall, is one of four players in Seton history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds in a career -- the others are the Wirth sisters Alana, Christina and Theresa. Julia Barcello recently became the school's all-time rebounding leader. She averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds a game. She scored 19 in the Lady Sentinels latest win last Friday over Desert Edge, 54-42.
It's little wonder Julia has racked up so many rebounds. A trademark of her game is hitting the floor for rebounds and loose balls. It's possible Julia has gone through more knee pads than any Seton player in history. Alex knows that all too well.
"She wore mine by accident one time," Alex said. "When I went to use them, they had holes in them."
Alex could have followed his sister to Seton. He opted to attend Corona -- ultimately to get tested at the highest level each night. It was a tough call.
"He has a lot of friends at Seton, and went to a school he didn't know many people other than the (basketball) players," Julia said. "It was hard for him at first not knowing many people, but his teammates have been great accepting him and making him feel comfortable."
Alex echoes the sentiment. And he's earned his playing time despite being a freshman on a talent-laden squad. Alex is the first or second player off the bench on a given night. He's averaging 7.6 points a game and 3.1 assists.
"I didn't know what to expect, but it's been fun the whole time," he said. "I don't regret anything about coming to Corona. Every day in practice I'm pushed to get better. That's what I wanted."
On Monday (Jan. 20) the Barcellos catch a scheduling break. Seton and Corona del Sol have games at Grand Canyon University as part of the annual Martin Luther King Day Classic. Seton takes on Saguaro at 1:30 p.m. The final game of five that day pits Corona del Sol against Shadow Mountain at 6 p.m.
"The only thing better would be if the games were back-to-back," Edward Barcello said. "We've been fortunate there have only been about seven conflicts with their games.The girls go to the games and usually decide to go to one based on who has the more competitive game.
"Since my wife films Julia's games, I can watch them before they go to (Seton coach) Karen (Self). We gave a bunch of DVDswe gave Coach Duane. He makes a copy for us that Alex can bring. That way my wife can see Alex's games. It can be hectic, but it's fun."
(Corona del Sol's Alex Barcello elevates to shoot against Mountain View's Payton Dastrup. Photo courtesy Jim Willittes/MaxPreps.com)