Peoples prospers in more prominent role at Burton 

The games were separated by three days, about a mile in location and approximately 5,000 cheering fans in the stands.

Last week, Mone Peoples’ former teammates on the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls’ basketball team outlasted archrival St. Ignatius 49-46 in overtime in front of a packed crowd at USF’s War Memorial Gym.

A week ago today, the 5-foot-7 senior was in uniform and playing for Burton in a chilly gym in front of a handful of fans at Kezar Pavilion and the Pumas were struggling to put pesky Wallenberg away in an Academic Athletic Association game.

Leading by eight points entering the fourth quarter, Peoples suddenly made a steal and converted the layup, hit three short shots and then buried two 3-pointers. By the time the barrage had ended, the Pumas were up 20 on their way to a 53-35 win and Peoples had scored 31 points.

As Peoples is learning, the feeling is the same when the ball hits the net, regardless of how many people are watching.

"This is a little different from Sacred Heart," Peoples said. "But I played with a lot of these girls growing up and we’ve always had chemistry. I’ve always just loved to play."

Peoples transferred to Burton from Sacred Heart Cathedral just over a month ago after serving as a reserve during the Irish’s Division IV state championship run last season. The move was the result of family concerns, not unhappiness or playing time issues with the Irish.

Now, instead of being a backup 3-point specialist competing in perhaps the best prep girls’ basketball league in the state, Peoples has slid into a starring role for a Burton team that went a combined 10-29 in AAA play over the past three seasons but is suddenly a threat to advance deep into the postseason.

The Pumas (8-8, 3-3 AAA) face a key test today at Lincoln (11-8, 2-2) at 5 p.m.

"[Mone] completes the puzzle," Burton point guard Brittney Thomas said. "She’s another person who can handle the ball and do a little bit of everything."

Thus far, Peoples is averaging 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals per game while quickly emerging as one of the AAA’s top talents.

"I don’t look at it as a lot of pressure," Peoples said. "It’s a good feeling to be depended on — to be in the huddle and have people look to me."

Burton coach Brian Jackson hasn’t hesitated to turn over the reigns to Peoples, even incorporating some man-to-man defense in order to take advantage of her quick hands on the perimeter.

"She runs every position on offense and can guard any position defensively," Jackson said. "She’s a really special player."

While Peoples is currently weighing offers from several Division I schools to play basketball, she’s taking a wait-and-see approach. For now, she’s focused on the task at hand, like avenging an 11-point loss to powerhouse Lowell this season.

"We actually led that game by one point in the fourth quarter," Peoples said. "We want to make it to the championship game and meet Lowell and give them a run for their money."

E-mail Matt Elliser at

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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