So she sought guidance from Phil Griego, her high school basketball coach at Saint Pius X in Albuquerque, and the telephone conversation wound up altering the course of Membreno’s athletic life.
“I was like, ‘Hey Phil, I’ve got to get out of here. I can’t do this Navy stuff,’ ” Membreno recalled of her doubt-filled time at the Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island, where she spent a postgraduate year before enrolling in the academy as a plebe who would compete solely in track and field. “I want to go play ball somewhere. It’s just not going to work.”
Griego suggested instead she reach out to Navy women’s basketball Coach Stefanie Pemper, and Membreno eventually came to Annapolis for a visit. Because Pemper initially had not recruited Membreno, the coaching staff was able to evaluate the 5-foot-9 guard only on film, but that body of work was compelling enough to find a place for her on the roster.
These days as a junior, Membreno is participating in both sports at Navy, whose basketball team is the No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament’s Bridgeport Region and will play second-seeded Kentucky (27-5) in the first round Sunday in Queens, N.Y. The Midshipmen (21-11) earned their third consecutive NCAA tournament berth by becoming the second program in Patriot League history to win the conference tournament three straight times.
“I can talk about Alix for days,” junior point guard Kara Pollinger said. “The things that she does for this team are so much more than the statistics that she puts up. Obviously she’s a great defender, and that really doesn’t go into the paper much. She’s great for hustle plays, and she’s great for leadership, and that stuff really doesn’t get recognized.”
In three seasons, Membreno has played in all 94 games, including 83 consecutive starts; been named to the Patriot League all-tournament team three straight times; and most recently was voted tournament MVP after Navy beat Holy Cross, 72-53, in the championship game March 16.
During the Patriot League tournament, Membreno totaled 38 points, 28 rebounds and 21 assists over three games. In a 60-48 win against Bucknell in the semifinals March 11, she finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks, nearly becoming the first player in Patriot League tournament history to record a triple-double.
Membreno seamlessly manages every role and position for the Midshipmen, moving from primary ballhandler to low-post threat to three-point sharpshooter to defensive nuisance. In the tournament championship game, for instance, Membreno had 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. She did not commit a foul and had two turnovers in 31 minutes.