Nahrie Pierce eyes the basket as she drives the lane. In an instant, the 13-year-old post player for the MRC Rebels goes airborne and slams the ball through the hoop, momentarily hanging on to the rim as she basks in the afterglow of the successful dunk.
OK, it may be an 8-foot basket, but the play looks impressive on Pierce’s cellphone.
Those who have seen the 5-foot-8 Pierce play for the Mission Recreation Center AAU eighth-grade team envision the San Francisco native dunking on a regulation 10-foot basket in the not-so-distant future.
This weekend, the MRC is hosting its annual holiday basketball tournament.
Pierce, who has been playing with three of her 12 Rebels teammates since third grade, is delighted to be back in the game after suffering an early season concussion.
“We were playing a tournament against One Nation, an Oakland team, and I went up for a rebound,” said Pierce, looking to her father, Kamon Pierce, for help as she has minimal recall of the incident.
“She tried to break the fall with her arm and hit her head,” her dad said. “She had a stage 3 concussion, amnesia, loss of consciousness and confusion, also whiplash.”
The greater challenge for the straight-A student was staying home from the San Francisco School for a week, then being relegated to the MRC sidelines, rooting on her teammates from the bench for over a month.
The Rebels’ leader is back, her competitive fire and court aggressiveness intact, with her eyes this weekend on a familiar opponent, the Mustangs from Stockton.
“At a tournament last year, we lost by about 12 on Saturday,” Pierce said. “They had this cockiness. On Sunday, we came back and blew them out. That was a great win.”
Kamon Pierce said that Nahrie contributed 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in the victory. Her personal best game to date is a 24-point performance in a Sacramento tournament last fall.
Asked to speculate on the source of her competitive nature, Nahrie Pierce once again looks over to her dad, football coach at Thurgood Marshall High School in The City, and responds.
“I hate losing a lot,” she said. “It bothers me. Even when we play dodgeball or kickball at school, it bothers me to lose.”
Currently deciding between four San Francisco high schools to attend next year, Pierce is committed to a career path that will include sports medicine after a hopeful stint in the WNBA, where she hopes to slam like her idol who also wears a No. 3 jersey, Candace Parker of the L.A. Sparks.
WHAT: Mission Rec Center seventh annual Holiday Classic
WHEN: Through today
DETAILS: AAU and CYO teams from across the state playing games in S.F. Parks & Recreation Dept. facilities across The City
WHO: 60 plus teams of fourth-eighth grade girls and boys