Sometimes lacking players, girls’ basketball team has early-season struggles

January 21, 2022 — by Christopher Chen
Senior Amarangana Tyagi reaches for the ball, pressing with the player from Wilcox next to her in the Jan. 19 game against Lynbrook.
The team has gone 6-7 overall, with a 1-4 league record.

Pandemic-related absences and travel conflicts from players have stymied the girls’ basketball team early in the season. 

With many players out, they have been outnumbered and overmatched. At various points, the team has missed senior power forward Naomi Mallik, junior shooting guard Jenny Campbell, junior guard Christina Chang, sophomore guard Zineerah Ahmed and sophomore power forward Priyanka Meduri. The Falcons sometimes  had 6-7 players against fully stocked opponents.

This contributed to four straight early league losses: 35-34 against Lynbrook on Jan. 18; 58-40 to Los Gatos on Jan. 14; 42-36 to Los Altos on Jan. 7; and 51-31 to Homestead on Dec. 30.

“For those games, all three teams we’ve played have had larger benches than us. They are able to substitute more people so that they are constantly having a fresh set of five on the court,” Campbell said. “Most of us have to stay in the game for extended periods of time, and some play the entire game without any rest.”

The quad day game against sister school Los Gatos on Jan. 14 wasn’t an exception. Although the game was evenly matched at first, they fell behind in the second half due to a lack of height and tiring out, with only six players available compared to Los Gatos’s full bench.

Following these four games, the team was mostly complete in a game they won against Wilcox 46-33 on Jan. 19. With a full team going forward for upcoming games against Los Altos and Lynbrook, the team is looking stronger than before. 

“We are definitely looking to win some games, now that we are back to full squad,” junior point guard Tanya Ghai said.

Although the team is “definitely pretty small,” Ghai believes lack of height is not a big issue, as she thinks the team has strong guards and posts. However, she believes the team needs to work on producing consistent offense.

“It is too stagnant, but I feel that’s an issue only because we have just started playing together and we’re trying to learn each other’s personal and overall skills,” she said. “Building the on-court chemistry and implementing an overall offensive game plan has been something we are trying to key in on.”

Senior Amarangana Tyagi found the team’s offense strong in the match against Wilcox on Jan. 19.

“I think our biggest problem was lack of movement — we weren’t moving when we didn’t have the ball,” she said. “In that game, we were cutting more, we were setting screens, we were passing dribble handoffs. We really got into this flow, which we hope we can continue.”

Coach Joshua Rivera is looking to improve the team chemistry and movement through scrimmages during practices, with a focus on locking down defensively to get more possession.

Possibly the toughest opponents for the team currently are Palo Alto and Homestead, according to Ghai — and the team is looking to rematch Homestead during their Senior Night in early February.

Tyagi believes the matchup against Homestead will go well, as the team is mostly complete now, and sees Palo Alto as less of a threat due to the loss of many graduated seniors.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as hard as it was in previous years,” she said. “But we also lost a lot of seniors and a lot of height.”

With the return of most of their players resulting in a win against Wilcox, the coach and the team is generally feeling better about their next few games.

“Every team goes through their own struggles, and tries to find their own identity,” Rivera said. “And because everyone’s coming back, and it’s helped me to go ‘I think we’ll be OK.’”

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