Girls Basketball faced off against the San Ramon Valley High School Wolves on February 15 in the second round of the NCS Championship Tournament. While the game was high-scoring with many lead changes throughout the four quarters, the Warriors fell short 71-78.
To prepare for the game, Assistant Coach Chris Joo prepared videos of the Wolves’ key players and signature plays, particularly their three-point shooting. The Warriors felt confident going into the game against the East Bay Athletic League champions because they had a stellar season themselves, with a 23-5 overall record.
Co-Captain and power forward Junior Starla Murillo said, “Seeing who they competed with and seeing what kind of team they are, we can match them, defensively and offensively, so we weren’t really intimidated, we were really motivated to get the dub.”
The game started with the opening tip going in favor of the Wolves. Power forward Sophomore Isha Nambisan was extremely productive on both defense and offense in the first quarter, recording a steal, two blocks, two three-point shots, and three rebounds. The Warriors continued to press the Wolves with another three point shot from point guard Junior Meghna Nair. While the first quarter was the slowest quarter in terms of scoring for both teams, the Warriors maintained their lead, ending the first quarter with the lead.
With the Warriors up 22-17 halfway through the second quarter, the Wolves made a three-pointer, but Nambisan responded the next possession with a driving layup past three defenders in the paint. Nambisan continued to wreak havoc on the court, blocking a three-point attempt by the Wolves. However, the Warriors’ defense allowed the Wolves to generate uncontested three-point shots, which eventually tied the score at 29-29. Two minutes later, the first half came to a close with the Wolves leading 35-34.
The Wolves further picked up the pace in the third quarter, exploiting the holes in the Warriors’ defense to score multiple wide-open three-pointers and extend the lead to 49-42. However, Co-Captain and power forward Senior Erin Zhu answered the Wolves’ perimeter shooting with a three-pointer of her own, and Murillo took a charge to regain possession for the Warriors.
With the Wolves in the lead 52-57 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Warriors fought hard to stay in the game. However, the Warriors again struggled with leaving three-point threats wide open, allowing the Wolves to score multiple times. Still, exhilarating sequences such as Murillo perfectly executing two straight layups and Nair scoring on a fast break cut the Wolves’ lead to 67-66. Undeterred, the Wolves quickly reasserted their lead with 10 unanswered points, finishing the game 78-71.
Reflecting on the game, both Murillo and Coach Doug Sakamoto believed that the girls succeeded in executing the offensive game plan and maintaining focus until the fourth quarter. However, Sakamoto said, “In the fourth quarter, we could have rebounded just a little bit better on the defensive end.” Murillo added that the team could have improved on their coverage of the Wolves’ dangerous three-point shooters.
With such a solid team, both Sakamoto and Murillo have high hopes for the team next year. Murillo said, “Our goal for next season is definitely to make NCS. This year we might go to states, so hopefully we can make states again next year.” *
*Girls Basketball will find out if they qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation State Basketball Championships this weekend.
Photos By Staff Writer Ian Park