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Girls' basketball struggles defensively

As the Valley fills with fog and cold, so Valley gyms fill with the sights and sounds of basketball season. The gym on campus is no exception-it is currently playing host to a team filled with hopes for a successful year.

“”This team is one of the best offensive teams I’ve had in my coaching career,”” Dan Avila, head girl’s varsity coach said. “”They are really learning fast, and have great potential for a good season.””

Guard Carli Albrechtson, ’03, is leading the way for the team, providing leadership play as a third-year varsity member.

“”Carli is a warrior,”” Avila said. “”She may be small, but she is tough, and a great player because she is willing to sacrifice herself. She is willing to dive and go to the floor. She works harder than anyone else. She is an example by her work ethic.””

Albrechtson got her start in basketball eight years ago while playing at Redbank Elementary School. She was immediately hooked on the sport.

“”I fell in love with basketball,”” Albechtson said. “”I thought it was so much fun. There are so many great things about it, but my favorite part of it would have to be the relationships you build with your teammates.””

Not only does Albrechtson help lead the team in an athletic sense, but she serves as the team’s spiritual leader as well.

“”Carli is always so encouraging,”” Hillary Kell, ’05, said. “”It doesn’t matter if it’s a big game or a practice, she’s always cheering us on, motivating us to play our best.””

And the girls have not been letting the encouragement go to waste. In their first game together, they cruised to a 66-23 victory over Laton.

“”We played very well against Laton,”” Avila said. “”Our offense was very strong, but defensively we are having trouble guarding anybody right now.””

This proved true against C.V.C. of Visalia on Dec. 10, as the Eagles lost 59-31 to the Cavaliers.

Coach Avila later said that the team is still young and will get better, but some of the girls may need to change their approach to playing defense in order to improve.

Commenting on who he described as the best player in the West Sierra League, Avila bemoans the need for more aggressiveness from some of the younger players.

“Jen Smit is virtually unstoppable when teams try to defend her man-to-man,” Avila said. “However, when she is double and triple-teamed, we struggle at times to score. But we still can score when girls who support her step up and take the shots I know they can make. Yet if we do not learn to defend, we will end up no better than fourth in our league.”

The girls next host Bullard High on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. and will travel to C.V.C. for their Invitational Tournament on Dec. 19-21.

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