Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Above The Rim: Sonora’s Marissa Dunn

Marissa Dunn (middle) with her Sonora teammates. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Marissa Dunn (middle) with her Sonora teammates. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Many teams talk about being a family, but Sonora’s girls basketball team lives it.

The tight-knit Raiders have created a family bond and Marissa Dunn’s hoem has become headquarters for all of Sonora’s off-court activities.

Dunn, a decorated athlete and student, has become Sonora’s leader on and off the court and has helped them get to the CIF-SS finals for the first time in school history. Sonora plays Orange Lutheran for the Division 3AA title on Saturday, March 5, at 9:30 a.m. at Azusa Pacific University.

Go “Above The Rim” to learn more about one of Orange County’s top players.


Marissa Dunn of Sonora. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Marissa Dunn of Sonora. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Name: Marissa Dunn

High School: Sonora High

Graduation Year: 2016

Height: 5-8 1/2

Position: Guard

Nickname(s): Dunn, Mari, D-unstoppable and Concussion Head

Twitter: @marissadunn_11

Season Stats: I don’t keep my stats, but coach will give it to us at the end of season. All I know is I have 390 points so far and 63 3-pointers.

Honors: Heart Award, Scholar Athlete (four years), Offensive Player of the Year 2014/15, first team All-Freeway League 2014-15, All-Tournament Wilson 2015, Associated Student Body/Leadership (ASB) Vice President three years, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), IMPACT Mentoring and Program Coordinator, Principal’s Honor Roll, National Honor Society Member and Club Secretary, CSF (California Scholarship Federation) Member, Spanish Student of the Month, Academic Achievement Award, Chemistry Student of the Month, Math Student of the Month and Social Science-AP Psychology Student of The Month.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up at Sonora?

Dunn: “My father is from West Virginia and my mother from Guatemala. I am so blessed to have these two wonderful parents who support me in all I do, whether it is with school, basketball, or music; they never fail to sacrifice their time. I have two older brothers, who are both in college. I have a very large family on my mom and dad’s side however they live pretty far, so I have what I call my “West-Hills family.” This family consists of my neighbors that I grew up with and that have molded me into the person I am today. l have had two best friends since pre-school and we are now planning to attend a university together. I attended Whittier Christian Elementary and Heights Christian Junior High, two amazing private schools. My parents wanted my brothers and me to experience “full-exposure” with a public school and they really loved the teaching staff at Sonora.”

Sonora's girls basketball team is in the finals for the first time in school history. Photo/Berta Dunn

Sonora’s girls basketball team is in the finals for the first time in school history. Photo/Berta Dunn

What has it taken to get Sonora to the finals, and what will it take to win the championship?

Dunn: “It has taken blood, sweat and tears to say the least. It’s quite comical when other sports teams ask us, ‘When is your guys hell week?’ Our response is ‘We play and practice hard year round, so it’s more of a hell year.’ Our coaches have pushed us in the weight room, on the track, obviously, on the court, and I know that every individual has put in their own time as well. Clearly, our hard work is becoming more and more evident with the performances we’ve displayed this season. It will take mental toughness, dedication and execution to win the championship.”

How would you describe this year’s team?

Dunn: “This year’s team is truly unique, and I’ve never played with a group of girls that have been so incredibly close. I believe it’s due to the fact that we have gone through two years ago, where we couldn’t execute nearly as much as we do now. My teammates have literally picked me up off the ground during conditioning. We also have a special bond off the court. I know I am with at least one of them every single day. They tend to live at my house, and I find myself cooking for them or staying up until midnight simply talking or dancing. Every time my mom enters the room, everyone says ‘Hi, mom!’ She has 12 daughters. This isn’t a team — it’s truly a family. I even consider my coach as a motherly figure because she’s always there for all of us with whatever we need.”

What have you learned about yourself this season?

Dunn: “I have learned that there will never be a perfect game. As a perfectionist, it has taken me four years to come to this conclusion. It doesn’t matter how many points I score in a half, there is always more room for improvement. There are so many different factors to be evaluated with the level one decides to play at. With that being said, I recognize that when one makes mistakes, or turnovers, YOU HAVE TO GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT PLAY. Dwelling on errors can potentially ruin the rest of the game as it destroys your mindset, and even affects your teammates. This is very similar to life, if one makes a mistake, learn from it and get back on defense.”

Sonora plays Orange Lutheran in the finals. What do you know about OLu?

Dunn: “I am aware that Orange Lutheran has some very skilled guards. We have defended a lot of great guards this season, so it should not be completely surprising. I think my team knows what we need to do. Our coaches never fail to guide us in the right direction when it comes to executing the correct game plan. I also know that they play great defense, but so do we. This game will not be easy, and both teams have worked so hard to get to this point in the playoffs. However, there is no doubt we will leave it all out on the court.”

Marissa Dunn (left) says Angela Rodriguez (right) is the most underrated player for Sonora. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Marissa Dunn (left) says Angela Rodriguez (right) is the most underrated player for Sonora. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Who is the most underrated player on your team?

Dunn: “I believe the most underrated player on our team is Angela Rodriguez. Angela contains the hardest job when it comes to defending post players and scoring against those big girls as well. Most underestimate her when they see her size, and then are completely shocked with her crafty post moves, and ability to be on more fast breaks than a lot of our guards. She also takes a lot of contact and never complains. Angela also has an amazing attitude. She never fails to make me laugh, encourage teammates and work so diligently on and off the court.”

What was it about basketball that made you fall in love with the sport?

Dunn: “I am very energetic, active and I tend to gain an immense passion with any task set before me; therefore basketball became the missing puzzle piece to my characteristics and desire to win. The constant movements and mental capacity that is combined within the game made my infatuation with basketball simply inevitable. I think what I love the most is it became more than a sport … it became a lifestyle. Every single part of the game became applicable to my life and prepared me more for my future than any teacher or book could.”

Was basketball your first love or did you play other sports first?

Dunn: “Basketball was actually not the first sport I came to love. I grew up with two brothers and six boy cousins, who were all extremely athletic and talented. Naturally, I began to compete with them as soon as I learned to walk whether it was playing soccer, tennis, swimming, volleyball and karate, all of which I competed in until my eighth grade year. I finally narrowed it down to volleyball, dance and basketball, and this became so difficult. My sophomore year I realized that basketball was my true passion and something I could not live without.”

Was there a moment in your career when you thought, “Wow, I’m actually pretty good and might be able to play in college!”?

Dunn: “Yes, my team was undergoing personal evaluations and towards the end of mine my coach asked me if I wanted her to contact any college coaches that I might be interested in. I replied ‘Coach, I honestly did not think I was good enough to play at that level.’ However, she had more faith than I did and we worked through the recruiting process. It was amazing to me that some coaches began to just simply ask how I was doing over text or phone call. This completely caught me by surprise. It also reminded me to work harder, especially on my college applications.”

Sonora takes on Orange Lutheran for the CIF-SS Division 3AA title on Saturday, March 5, at 9:30 a.m. at Azusa Pacific University. Photo/@marissadunn_11

Sonora takes on Orange Lutheran for the CIF-SS Division 3AA title on Saturday, March 5, at 9:30 a.m. at Azusa Pacific University. Photo/@marissadunn_11

How has recruiting been going? What colleges have shown interest or made you any offers?

Dunn: “College recruiting has been a very interesting experience. Some colleges that have shown interest include Claremont-McKenna, Redlands, Chapman, and a couple JCs. When you receive looks from college coaches and as they begin to reach out to you, it became very humbling. The fact that a university wants me just reflects how hard I’ve worked and how blessed I am to play basketball.”

What do coaches say they like most about you and your game?

Dunn: “Coaches usually appreciate the heart and hustle I have throughout the game. Apparently it’s very evident when I play, probably due to the fact that I am always diving on the floor, but I have heard this from multiple coaches. I am glad that’s something that appears to others because I know how hard I work and I want people to know how much I care about my team being successful.”

What’s been the highlight of your athletic career so far?

Dunn: “Making history, proving others wrong and getting to CIF.”

What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

Dunn: “People are usually surprised that I sing.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Dunn: “The best advice that I have ever been given is actually a quote that I live by, which is ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ (by) Eleanor Roosevelt.”


Fill in the blank: If I wasn’t playing basketball, I’d be singing.

Last movie you saw and what did you think of it: Bridesmaids and (its) absolutely hilarious.

Dunn_collageIf you were handed $10,000 and had to spend in one day, what would you do with it? Travel to Greece.

What’s the one thing/object, besides your phone, that you can’t live without? I do not think I could live without my Bible. It is something I always go to when I question trials I face in life or when I need a source of comfort.

Do you have any basketball superstitions or rituals? Yes, I have a few rituals. I have to shower before every basketball game. I am not sure why, it just feels great getting into your uniform when you are all nice and clean. I also must brush my teeth before every game. Maybe so my defenders can be blinded by my pearly whites? I am not sure, it just feels correct. People always ask what music I listen to, but I really don’t listen to pump up songs surprisingly. I just visualize the game, and that tends to get me focused.

What’s your “guilty pleasure,” something you hate to admit you love? I hate that I love chocolate simply because it is so incredibly hard to resist!

What is the scariest thing in the world? The scariest thing in the world is the fact that people are scared to be in it.

If you could have a super power, what would you want it to be? I would definitely want to be able to fly!

Last song/CD you bought: Chris Brown’s new album.

Dunn_dinnerIf you could have dinner with four people dead or alive, who would it be? Beyoncé, Kobe Bryant, my uncle and Thomas Jefferson.

What did you want to be when you were little? When I was little I aspired to be a missionary and singer. These aspirations haven’t really changed besides the missionary part. I still plan to spread the word and love of Jesus Christ to others, but in different ways such as worship. When I was younger the only noise that would come out of my mouth was lyrics from a song.

Something on your “must do” list: Travel, skydive and hot air balloon.

Favorite motto or philosophy of life:No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

(Note: Manny Alvarez contributed to this report. Follow Manny on Twitter @MAlvarez02)

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