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Champs by night and by morning: California teammates win girls basketball and soccer section crowns within 15 hours

Tuesday night will bring extra challenge for Kaia Diederichs and Maya Smiley of Colfax with NorCal games in both sports occurring.

In a span of 15 hours Colfax (Calif.) junior Kaia Diederichs and freshman Maya Smiley won Sac-Joaquin Section championships in basketball and soccer.

Diederichs scored 17 points and pulled down five boards as the Falcons won their second consecutive section basketball title. Smiley came off the bench and scored two points in six minutes as the game ended at 7:21 p.m. on Friday night at UC Davis.

At 9 a.m. the next morning, both were on the pitch for a section title soccer game against Placer (Auburn) at Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove.

“It was a little hard to get out of bed getting a few hours of sleep and just having played another big game but I think Maya and I bounced back for how close together the games were,” Diederichs said.

Colfax fell behind 1-0, but at 9:21 a.m. — exactly 14 hours after the basketball team held up the cherished blue banner — Diederichs got the ball near midfield, won a footrace to get ahead of the defense and just had to beat the keeper. She struck the ball into the upper corner of the net to tie up the game.

Six minutes later Smiley scored her first goal of the game on an assist from Diederichs to give Colfax the lead.

“I saw that Kaia had the ball and I know a lot of the time what she is going to do with the ball,” Smiley said.

Smiley raced to the perfect position as the pass arrived and dealt it into the back of the net. She scored again in the 40th minute for Colfax, which won its third straight section soccer crown by a score of 4-1.

This is Diederichs third year playing both sports during the same season. She grew up playing and loving both sports and it was never a question for her if she would give one up. In basketball she has a career record of 90-11 with two section titles and a NorCal crown. In soccer she has a 69-6-3 record with three section titles and a NorCal finals appearance. During that span she has amassed 110 goals.

On Tuesday both teams will play as NorCal playoffs begin. Soccer will play Miramonte (Orinda, Calif.) at 2 p.m. at a neutral site, Del Oro (Loomis). The basketball team will host St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo, Calif.) at 7 p.m.

Diederichs was in a similar situation last year as a sophomore. On Feb. 28 and March 2, 2023 both teams played on the same day. On Feb. 28 she scored a goal then went out and scored 19 points as both teams won. Two days later she again scored on the soccer field before tallying up 14 points on the basketball court to send both teams to the NorCal finals.

Now she has a teammate joining her for both sports.

“Kaia has been very helpful and she’s told me what to expect before the season began,” Smiley said. “She understands how it works and she helps me out.”

Smiley played soccer since she was four but just started playing basketball. The freshman scored seven goals in her first four varsity games and has 25 on the season. She is relatively new to basketball and is one of the first players to come off the bench.

“She’s really physical and athletic and kind of does the dirty work,” Colfax basketball head coach Rexanne Simpton said. “She’s made some amazing strides in the last year.”

To make this schedule work, Simpton works very closely with head soccer coach Kara Diederichs — Kaia’s mother. They plan the practice and game schedules so they either don’t conflict, or conflict as little as possible. When the postseason comes around, the coaching pair have a system worked out to decide which team gets the two players if games are on the same day in different locations.

“There’s nobody that wants it more or works harder than Kara to make it happen so that the players can be successful on the court and on the pitch,” Simpton said.

Kaia and Smiley often go from one practice right to the next. The soccer team isn’t able to practice at their school, so Kaia drives Smiley about 20 minutes to another high school to join the team.

“We spend a lot of time in the car together and I think it’s helped us both on and off the court just to get a lot closer,” Kaia said. “She’s adjusted really well and it’s super cool to see someone else be able to take advantage of the opportunity we have.”

The junior has her routine down to a tee. After going to school and two practices, she takes care of her homework, her body and watches game film before getting a full eight hours of sleep every night. Her mom calls her a “game film junkie.”

“I have a fine plan of what’s going to happen every day in my mind so that I’m never surprised with anything that I have to do,” Kaia said.

It’s led to a 4.25 grade point average with many international baccalaureate classes.

Smiley keeps a 3.75 GPA as she gets more accustomed to this busy schedule.

“Sometimes I get stressed out for schoolwork and stuff, because if I can’t find the time or practices go longer than usual, then I’ll have to stay up a bit late to finish homework,” Smiley said. “But I usually get it done.”

It’s been a busy year for both. The two helped lead the girls flag football team to the section semifinals in the fall. Kaia was one of the best defenders in the state, intercepting 34 passes for a 14-3 squad. Both played club soccer during that time. Kaia also played volleyball.

“It’s overwhelming at times but totally possible,” Kara said. “It’s good to have each other to lean on.”

Kaia also competes in track where she has competed at the section championship in long jump. She is top 10 in school history in the long jump as well as the 100 and 200 meters.

Once the basketball and soccer seasons are complete, Kaia will transition to track while Smiley may also join her.

No matter how this basketball season ends, the pair and their families will be able to bask in the memory of winning two section titles by night and by morning for the rest of their lives.

“There is nothing really more satisfying I don’t think than watching your kids succeed at what they love doing,” Kara said.

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