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Lady Aztec Invitational: Eagles earn 1st win

Latest girls’ basketball shorts will be at the top of the section. Scroll down to check out past results. Scrimmages do not count toward win/loss record. Visit the Sports Section for girls’ basketball features.) For a simple overview of scores and upcoming games, check the Winter sport box scores, 2011-12 for dates, opponents and times for all Eagle sports.

Be sure to visit the 2011-12 girls’ basketball schedule, home page, or check out Eagles are currently 1-7 overall and 0-0 in the West Sequoia League as of Dec. 17. The Eagles will next travel to Bakersfield Christian on Jan. 5, 2012, at 6:30 p.m.

After losing to Bakersfield Christian by 14 points earlier in the day, the Eagles were eager to win their first match. After seven straight loses, FC seemed determined to get on the win column.

This time, the Eagles’ senior captains, Brandi Thompson and Nicole Hensley, were able to score inside the paint. The Tigers’ defense was no match for the Eagles’ aggressive play.

Unlike the previous game, the FC offense clicked. When the Tigers scored or rebounded the ball, the Eagles sprinted back on defense. With their newfound determination, the Eagles won a game at the Farmersville Aztec Invitational by 26 points, 53-28, for their first win of the season, Dec. 17.

According to captain Hensley, who had 26 points, 1 rebound, 6 steals, and 4 assists, the team was able to score points due to playing aggressive and boxing out. Winning the first game of the season boosted the team’s confidence, she says.

“Winning tonight’s game was awesome,” Hensley said. “It definitely boosted my confidence for sure. We could continue to work on boxing out so that we can get more rebounds and limit the chances the other teams have to score. If we can nail that, I feel like we can have many more fast break opportunities. This can help us get points without other team scoring. Also, being aggressive will definitely benefit the team because we will get more fouls and limit our turnovers.”

Thompson’s aggressive play earned her 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals which opened up scoring opportunity for the youngest Eagles.

Freshman Hollie Tucker, who had 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal, says that she could not have done this by herself but the whole team contributed to the win. She thanks her teammates for assisting her on the court and guiding her through when she needed help. Despite winning by 26 points, she says there are various areas the team needs to work on.

“We worked amazing together as a team,” Tucker said. “It was great winning this game and I enjoyed it. All of us sprinted and tried to get every rebound we could. Also, I thank my teammates for helping me out on the court when I was stuck or when I needed help. Even though we won, I am still not satisfied. We need to play with that kind of intensity every game. But overall, we worked so hard for this and we totally deserved it.”

Head coach Santino Reynolds says that he is pleased that his players realized what it takes to win. He praises Tucker and sophomore Vivianna Hinojosa, who had 4 rebounds and 2 steals, for the improvements they have made throughout the season.

“It was very nice for the team to get a taste of victory,” Reynolds said. “It was just an example of the hard work the girls have put in. Brandi and Nicole clearly set the tempo. I would say that Hollie and Vivianna improved a lot defensively throughout the game today.”

Hinojosa says that she appreciates FC staff greatly. She also enjoys working with her fellow captains.

“I am so glad that we won this game,” Hinojosa said. “We really came together as a team and executed well. I am thankful for great captains and coaches that we have. Because without their help, we would not be where we are today.”

Assistant coach Jim White says that he is pleased with the win. Besides focusing on winning all the time, it is also important to focus on the journey and learn to always do your best and encourage others to do the same, he says.

“We were very pleased with the victory today,” White said. “The team needed to enjoy some success for all of our efforts so far this season. The victory will give us some confidence going into the New Year. Our team is working hard and we need to keep learning and improving our skills to get ready for league. If we do our best and help our teammates, we will succeed in league.”

The Eagles will next travel to Bakersfield Christian on Jan. 5, 2012, at 6:30 p.m.

In a battle of private schools, the Southern Valley Eagles used aggressive play inside the paint and their height advantage to defeat their counterparts from Fresno, 49-35, Dec. 17.

From the very start, Bakersfield Christian used a stifling defense and physical play inside to grab an early, 13-6, first quarter lead. Their height also played a crucial part of their scheme since four of the players were standing 5’9″ and above.

With their height, they were able to box out and grab the rebounds right off of the backboard. For the Bakersfield Eagles, senior Danielle Gregory lead the team with 4 offensive rebounds, and 8 defensive rebounds. Despite Bakersfield’s outstanding rebounder, FC was able to score 6 points in the first quarter.

The second quarter was much of the same as the Fresno Eagles grew frustrated with their inside game. Bakersfield outscored them, 15-10, to take a 28-16 lead into the half.

For the next two quarters though, FC kept up with Bakersfield mounting their own attack and played a stronger half. But the lead was too much to overcome.

FC’s senior captain Nicole Hensley kept up with Gregory’s pace by scoring 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist. Following Hensley’s lead, captain senior Brandi Thompson had 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 5 assists.

Sohomore Rayna Endicott, who had 2 points, and 1 rebound scored for the first time in the season. She was given an opportunity to shoot two free throws, due to a push from Bakersfield Christian. She was able to make both, earning two points for the team.

“I was glad that I scored 2 points,” Endicott said. “It really helped me boost up my confidence. I earned chances to make free throws by playing aggressive, so I am gonna keep playing with high intensity every game. In league, I hope to make other shots besides free throws.”

Sophomore Sarah Lim says that she is disappointed with the loss. The team needs to contain more confidence and vitality in order to win the next game, she says.

“I am unhappy that we lost,” Lim said. “Because it was a team we definitely could have beat. I think with more practice and high energy, we are going to beat them in a few weeks. We just need to make sure that we are energized before the game and sprint the whole game instead of jogging.”

According to head coach Santino Reynolds, the players’ heads were not entirely in the game. In the first two quarters, the team played as five individuals rather than a whole team. He will train the girls over the Christmas break in order to prevent turbulence on the court, he says.

“We lacked energy and we were not as focused as we needed to be,” Reynolds said. “We played much better in the second half, but lacked the needed execution the entire game. The team will continue to improve through the break and be ready to start league in January.”

Captain Hensley says that the size of the Bakersfield Eagles’ played a pivotal role in the game. Since basketball is a physical sport, it is necessary for the team to step up their aggressiveness when facing girls who are greater in size, she says.

“They had height on us and were bigger as well,” Hensley said. “They were able to get offensive rebounds and put backs. What we need to do against people like that is make sure we box out and move the players out of the key. It will allow us to get the rebound and limit the chances they have to score.”

According to assistant coach Michele Graham, the team needs to make improvements in shooting. The team missed effortless shots, such as right handed lay ups, and two pointers. Graham will illustrate ways to shoot and once the team executes uncomplicated shots, she will introduce them to more complex moves such as three pointers, and left handed lay ups.

“I can’t explain how important shooting is,” Graham said. “If we can’t shoot, that means we can’t score. When the coaches looked at our stats, we made 20 percent of the shots. By the time we enter league, I expect the girls to be more advanced and make over 50 percent. At the rate we are going, I think it is going to be possible. We are going to focus on shooting and defense over the break.”

Captain Thompson says that Bakersfield Christians was not a difficult opponent. If the team did not play sloppy in the first half, they could have won the game.

“I thought we could have beat them,” Thompson said. “But instead, we did not play our best the first half. We can beat them by just playing our hardest and do what we know how to do. We went over the plays so many times during practice so if we just play clean and organized, we can defeat them next time.”

After losing the game against Dinuba, 43-15, the Eagles were hoping to bounce back against the Woodlake Tigers, Dec. 15. But the game ended exactly like their opening match and FC dropped a second straight game, 43-15.

The game started slow for the Eagles in the first quarter, as missed free throws slowed them. Sophomore Hannah Avila, who finished the game with 4 points and three rebounds, scored a 2 pointer. Senior Brandi Thompson added a second basket but FC trailed the Tigers, 11-4. Thompson finished the game with 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal.

Avila got the Eagles going in the second with a strong rebound and scored a 2 pointer. But again, it was poor shooting at the line which kept the Eagles from success.

Senior Nicole Hensley, led the Eagles with 7 points, a 3-pointer, finished the game with 2 rebounds, and 1 steal. While the Eagle defense held their opponent to under 50 points, their inability to capitalize on the free throw line gave Woodlake the advantage.

Captain Hensley, she says is proud of her team for coming out prepared and relaxed in the second game. Even though the other teams will come out with complicated plays that might perplex the team, they need to show intensity no matter what, she says

“We were definitely calmer in this game compared to the game against Dinuba,” Hensley said. “We executed our plays good and we figured out where to be when we got confused. I felt we showed up each quarter and did the best job possible for our team. We had better intensity and overall, it felt much more organized.”

After being defeated by 28 points against Dinuba, senior captains Thompson and Hensley gathered up the team and revitalized them. This helped sophomore Sarah Lim, both mentally and physically, she says.

“What motivated me was when our whole team talked,” Lim said. “Our captains really brought out their leadership abilities, which really encouraged all of us. Through encouragements from the coaches and from the team, we loosened up and just had fun with it. This impacted me personally because if the whole team is down, then I tend to be negative as well but since we were all positive, I wanted to try harder on the court.”

Avila says that the team played better in the second game because they were not entirely focused on winning, but having fun and enjoying the game. She believes that basketball is a mental game and containing a proper attitude is crucial.

“I thought the second game was a lot better,” Avila said. “Because our attitudes and confidence were much higher. As a team, we worked awesome together and every one of us tried our very best.”

Head coach Santino Reynolds says that even though players from Woodlake had experiences, Eagles were able to foul them out.

“They had an experience team but we forced them into some uncomfortable situations due to our ability to make teams foul. We were able to handle their press but we struggled in the half court. We will get better at execution over break and go from there.”

The Dinuba Emperors were able to score 2 points within 30 seconds of the game and never looked back, defeating the Eagles, 43-15, to open the Farmersville Azrec Invitational, Dec. 15.

Emperors’ junior Cassidee Angangan led all players with 20 points and was effective inside and at the 3-point line. In the first game of the tournament, it was Dinuba who came prepared to play while the Eagles struggled on both sides of the court. The Emperors led by ten points at the end of the first quarter, 16-6.

The break did not seem to help the Eagles as the players did not gel and tension became evident. Dinuba built its lead and took a 30-11 advantage into half-time.

During the half break, head coach Santino Reynolds and FC staff reinforced the squad to work together and encouraged them to push forward but Dinuba carried the momentum through the third leading 37-13.

Senior captain Brandi Thompson, who had 6 rebounds and 1 steal, scored 4 points to lead the Eagles in scoring.

According to Sophomore Viviana Hinojosa, who had 2 rebounds and 1 assist, says that she was not satisfied with the way the team played. She felt like the team could have tried harder with rebounding and boxing out.

“I did not feel good about this game,” Hinojosa said. “I felt like we could have executed more. Also, our heads were not in the game and we played like it was the first game of the year. We could have done so much better and we cannot make these simple mistakes again. The reason why we could not score was because of rebounding. So we need to work on that as well as running different plays.”

Sophomore Rayna Endicott, who had three rebounds, believes that no matter what the scores are, the team needs to motivate and encourage each other to play with high intensity. Even when the team is losing, demonstrating a decent sportsmanship out in the court is significant.

“I think having a positive attitude is important when playing any sport,” Endicott said. “We kind of doubted ourselves during this game when we should have encouraged each other. No matter how good our opponents are, we can defeat them if we stay motivated and have fun on the court.”

Senior captain Nicole Hensley, who had 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 steals, says that the team did well against Dinuba considering their experience. The Emperors came out with complex defense that the Eagles were unfamiliar with, but they adjusted in a nonchalant way.

“The other team had way more experience players,” Hensley said. “But we did not let that bother us and still tried our best. I think we improved tremendously with our calmness. We were not as scared and that contributed to a better game against a very experienced team. Overall, I felt our intensity and understanding of the game improved greatly.”

Captain Hensley praises sophomore Sarah Lim for her aggressiveness during a difficult opening game.

“Sarah did a great job,” Hensley said. “She was aggressive and pulled down some rebounds for us. I am also proud of everyone else on the team and I am excited for the league to start.”

Head coach Santino Reynolds says that he is fond of senior captains, Thompson and Hensley, for guiding the team on the court and boosting the younger players’ confidence outside the court.

“Against Dinuba, we played very timid and struggled with their pressure,” Reynolds said. “The highlight of the game was senior leadership that Brandi and Nicole displayed for the team.”

Assistant coach Jim white says that although the Eagles will face teams with higher skills, they will be able to conquer and win if they work together as one. Win or lose, they will gain valuable life lessons such as mental strength, and how to work with other individuals, he says.

“The game with Dinuba, we were playing an experienced team that was very well coached,” White said. “They were a better team then us at this time of the season. We need to get better and work harder to improve and help each other improve, a total team effort. If we all give our very best effort and still don’t win, we just need to realize that basketball is just a vehicle for teaching these life lessons.”

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    Jieun SeoJan 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Wow Gee! I knew your hard work would pay off someday. I am so glad that you got great amount of money as your prize. You totally deserve it:)