Girls’ basketball seeks to reclaim CIF championship

By Chelsey Taylor-Vaughn

After claiming the Mission League championship for the second year in a row, the varsity girls’ basketball team defeated Dos Pueblos 74-46 this weekend, securing them a spot in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

They take on the Cypress High School Centurions tomorrow.

In the first round of CIF the girls overpowered Moorpark at home, 75-43, in another season blowout.

The girls’ basketball team wasn’t expected to be league champions for a second year in a row, but after last week’s 63-47 win over Alemany, the Wolverines claimed the Mission League title, finishing a 9-1 record.

“People doubting us just made us stronger and made us push a little bit more than everybody else in league,” Hilary King ’11 said.

Heading into CIF, the team was ranked number one in Division II, and in their first match-up, they went head-to-head with the Moorpark Musketeers. Both the coaches and players were  very confident going into CIF especially with a defense that is “smothering” and “better than our defense from last year,” Head Coach Mellissa Hearlihy said.

Entering season, the team had high hopes, but its top priority was beating the Chaminade Eagles. In their first match-up, the Eagles pulled out a 51-46 victory over the Wolverines.

“We started out playing our game, but then in the second half, [we played] their game, and we couldn’t defend that,” Hearlihy said.

Eventually the team got their revenge when they faced the Eagles at home, winning 57-41, even though, as King said, many people thought that they had “no chance.” Executing full court press made all the difference in games because this defense restricted the Eagles’ guards from passing the ball inside to the “big kids,” Hearlihy said. 

Senior Night against Flintridge Sacred Heart was emotional this year because the senior players realized that they would no longer be competing as Wolverines. Hearlihy has known King since she was six, and has been active in King’s basketball career, that will soon be coming to an end this season. King does not plan on playing college basketball but instead pursuing track.

“Playing basketball has brought me some of the happiest moments of my life,” King said.

Through all the emotions, the girls defeated their challenger by 33 points, with a score of 71-38.    

This year the team had to morph into different basketball players to fit the needs of the team, Hearlihy said, specifically Skylar Tsutsui ’11 and King. Last year King’s main job was defense. She would go into the game and guard the other team’s best player and have “zero responsibility to score,” Hearlihy said. But now she is making an offensive impact as the  leading scorer with 17 points in the match up against Chaminade.

Just like King, Tsutsui has changed into a “versatility type player” instead of just a three-point shooter, Hearlihy said.

They have grown confident in themselves as players, and as a team going into CIF, they are focusing on boxing out and rebounding. she said.

The team doesn’t have a specific tough competitor going into playoffs, but they are expecting a challenge from each team they play, Natalie Florescu ’13 said.

In CIF “we are going to force people to beat us, not beat ourselves,” Hearlihy said.