Archbishop Murphy senior Olivia Riojas takes a shot at a Dec. 26 practice session in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)                                Archbishop Murphy’s Olivia Riojas practices on Dec. 26 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy senior Olivia Riojas takes a shot at a Dec. 26 practice session in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald) Archbishop Murphy’s Olivia Riojas practices on Dec. 26 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Five things to know about Archbishop Murphy’s Olivia Riojas

Olivia Riojas’ style of play on the basketball court can be summed up in one word:

Intense.

“Ever since I started playing basketball in the first grade, I liked the aggressiveness of it,” she said. “I like being able to get into peoples’ heads. That’s my thing.”

Riojas, a senior guard for the Archbishop Murphy girls team, earned all-Cascade Conference first-team honors last season by becoming a true two-way player.

“She’s huge on attacking the rim,” said Wildcats coach Cassie Snyder. “She’s got a quick first step. She’s also a really good defender. She’s a hard-nosed kid. She works hard and never complains.”

Here are five things to know about Riojas:

1. She relishes her role as the Wildcats’ defensive stopper. “Our defense generates our offense, and I’m known for getting our defense started,” she said. “That’s the (main) way I contribute to the team; it’s my obligation. I get pumped up to see the (opponent’s) best player not score as much or get open looks.”

2. She was a member of the Triple Threat AAU team for the past five years. “We traveled every summer — we went to Las Vegas, California, Chicago. We played in big tournaments,” she said. “It was nice to get that kind of exposure because the (style of play) is much more intense than high school. (My Triple Threat and Archbishop Murphy teammate) Emily Rodabaugh has been a big inspiration for me. We’ve played together since the fifth grade. She’s the only one in practice who pushes me to do better things.”

3. She favors her English classes in school. “I always liked reading and writing more than math or science,” she said. “I’m taking a class now called Utopias and Dystopias, (where) we read books and write about them. It’s challenging and really fun. We broke down Shakespeare plays — writing about different scenes, finding different meanings, comparing and contrasting, that kind of stuff.”

4. She will continue her basketball career at Benedictine University in Mesa, Ariz. “They scouted me at an AAU tournament in Arizona and had expressed the most interest in me. When I went on my official visit, they made me feel at home,” Riojas said. “Right now I’d like to major in education, although I’m sure that will change. I like little kids. I have a (7-year-old) brother, and I’m always around him and his friends.”

5. Water skiing and traveling are two of her favorite hobbies. Living in Lake Stevens near the lake itself, Riojas and her family “are out there every single day in the summer,” she said. “We have competitions. Two skiers will go out at one time and see who can stay up the longest, or see who can push the other (skier) down. We also take family vacations. My favorite trip is always Mexico. We have a timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, and going down there is super fun. We’ve been every year since I was in the second grade.”

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