Girls’ basketball prevails despite key injuries

March 10, 2009 — by Alicia Lee and Uma Sambasivam

In October, 154 girls—six seniors, seven juniors, one sophomore, and one freshman—became a single unit: the Lady Falcons. The team quickly formed an unbreakable bond, one forged at Chipotle and Yogurtland then strengthened by karaoke nights and hot tubs.

It was this bond that led the Lady Falcons to a successful season and a CCS appearance, even after they lost starting point guard senior Sheeva Hamidieh to a knee injury for the seniors and played without senior forward Alex Sclavos and senior guard Melissa Lin for a period of time.

“I really liked how the season ended,” said senior Ashley Cole, who replaced Hamidieh at the point guard position early in the year. “It was a fun season and we did really well considering what happened to our team. It was definitely my favorite season by far.”

There were, however, several obstacles to overcome: Not only did Saratoga have a different coach for the fourth consecutive season, but this year the girls also moved up a league and faced a challenging schedule.

“The girls persevered through some difficult circumstances and never complained or whined about it,” said head coach Mike Davey. “That’s why we were able to succeed.”

The girls’ season came to a close against Aptos on Feb. 26 in the second round of CCS. The team struggled during the first half and fell behind by as much as 18 points, a deficit that was too much to overcome in the 55-41 loss. Sclavos led the Lady Falcons with 18 points.

“I think we just dug ourselves a hole in the first half that we couldn’t get out of,” said Lin, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle. “We played really hard in the second half and I’m proud of the way we finished, but I really wish I could’ve been there [for the team].”

The girls went into their game against Aptos with some momentum following a dominant home victory against Monterey in the first round of CCS on Feb. 24. The girls reached the 70-point mark for the first time all season en route to a 72-55 blowout. Junior forward Nicole Gragnola (18 points) was the only player to score in double figures, but several members of the team made key contributions.

“I think as a team we had our best game against Monterey because not just one or two people shined at that game,” said junior center Baylee Yates. “Everyone, even the people who came off the bench at the end of the game, played well.”

The Lady Falcons also triumphed in two games during February break, beating the Wildcats 50-34 in Los Gatos’ last home game on Feb. 18 and then crushing Milpitas 57-17 two days later on Saratoga’s senior night. The win over Milpitas featured an excellent defensive effort, but the main story of the night was Hamidieh’s return to the court after a two-month absence.

The short winning streak provided some relief from the rough stretch the girls endured the week before. In a span of three days the team faced the league’s two top seeds, Gunn and Wilcox, and suffered defeats of 67-33 and 51-26, respectively. Hamdieh cam out as a starter and scored 2 points.

Junior point guard Emily Baba said despite the ups and downs of the season, she feels the team exceeded its expectations in a tough division. Then team finished 3rd in the De Anza division which featured CCS Champion Wilcox and CCS finalist in ’09 Gunn.

“I thought the season was great,” said Baba. “We did really well, especially playing in the A-league and ending above .500.”

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