Girls’ basketball team prepares for CCS

January 30, 2020 — by Anna Novoselov and Harshini Velchamy

Due to injuries to key players, coach Danny Wallace has lately been working with a seven-player rotation, who have had trouble keeping pace with teams like Lynbrook due to a lack of subs. 

Last Friday at home, they played hard for three quarters but fell to the Vikings 46-31, bringing their league record to 2-4 as of Jan. 24 and overall record to 11-7

The injury plague began in December when star junior point guard Jane Loo tore her ACL in a tournament. Later, sophomore post Amaragana Tyagi suffered a knee injury and sophomore guard Naomi Mallik a sprained ankle. Out of those seven who competed against Lynbrook, senior guard Anika Prasad played through shin and back pain while junior guard Kaitlyn Yu played through ankle injuries. 

“We were doing really well until the fourth quarter when we got too tired and our defense started to crumble,” junior guard Iris Lee said. “Even though we lost, we really played as a team and had a lot of ball movement and post to guard action.”

Lee said that at the start of the season, Loo would often drive and create open shots for other players, but with Loo now rooting from the bench, other players have had to adjust their skills and fill new roles. Some posts like Bailey have also had to play guard and team members who would normally be subs have been starters.

“It is great to see the underclassmen step up and the upperclassmen show leadership on and off the court,” senior center Ella Parr said. 

The team beat Wilcox 48-36 on Jan. 21, lost 35-33 to Palo Alto on Jan. 14, lost to Los Gatos 50-38 on Jan. 10, and beat Mt. Pleasant on Jan 8. 

Wallace said that the team has done well, considering that it is in the upper De Anza League for the second year and plays against highly competitive teams with a roster that isn’t close to full strength.  

“I’m proud of my team because they go into every game and give it their all,” Wallace said. “They almost beat Palo Alto, which is ranked top 100 in the state.”

Since the team lacks height compared to other teams, one of its strategies has been to focus on quick movements and shooting from the outside. However, the team changed its offense several times throughout the season to try to utilize both inside and outside game strategies, balancing plays within the paint and along the 3-point line. 

“We are a heavy shooting team,” Parr said. “Almost everyone on the team can shoot the ball, but what we have been trying to make a strength is our inside game: feeding the ball to the posts.”

Another struggle the team faces is its inability to simulate the opponents’ defenses and offenses during practices due to  many injured and sick players. Despite this, players continue to run drills to improve their ability to work together to take advantage of the team’s strengths. 

From Dec. 27 to 30, the team traveled to Concord  to participate in the West Coast Jamboree tournament, where the Falcons played against CCS semi-finalist-level teams, losing the first two games but winning the last one during the round robin stage.  

In between games, the team bonded by going to the movies, bowling and eating out, which allowed new players on varsity like juniors Athena Mahajani and Anaïk Jeanjaquet and sophomore Naomi Mallik to become integrated into the team, which consists mainly of returning varsity players.

“Our team works really well together because we have a lot of team chemistry and everyone loves each other on and off the court,” Yu said.

The team is now focusing on finishing the league season strong and preparing for CCS, where they lost in the semifinals against Aptos in the past two consecutive years.

“So far the season has been fluctuating,” Parr said, “but my hope is to see the team go far in CCS.”

The Falcon was unable to cover the Jan. 28 game against Cupertino due to printing deadlines.