JV girls ends regular season 8–1 but falls short of AAA title

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Originally published on March 3, 2015

Sophomore guard Madeline Quach attempts a shot in the Cardinals’ 56–43 loss to the Lincoln Mustangs in the championship game on March 2. The Cards lost the championship last year, too. Photo by Leonard Caoili

The JV girls’ basketball team fell short of winning first place after losing 56–43 in the championship game against the Lincoln Mustangs on March 2, settling for second place again. The squad lost 36–30 to the Washington Eagles in last season’s title game.

Both the Mustangs and Cardinals were evenly matched throughout most of the game, but ultimately Lowell let the game slip away. “At the end, Lincoln wanted it more,” sophomore forward and guard Sabrina Serafica said. “There were a lot of freshmen, and it was their first championship game. We were definitely nervous and that’s why we panicked. We rushed, and Lincoln use[d] it to their advantage.” Hosoda added that Lowell turnovers cost the team many points.

“We were definitely nervous and that’s why we panicked.”

The Cardinals played hard in their final game of the season. Even when the Mustangs began to extend their lead, the girls fought back to try to keep the game close. “We were down by 12 points in the third quarter,” head coach Christine Hosoda said. “We put Kirsten Kuang into the game, and she ignited the comeback and helped us cut their lead to two points. Kirsten provided energy and a sense of urgency that we lacked.”

Both Serafica and sophomore guard and forward Rufina Lui each scored nine points. Sophomore guard Madeline Quach contributed with seven points, while freshman forward Joanne Thai, sophomore guard and forward Sharon Hsu and freshman guard and forward Olivia Pan all had four points.

Despite the loss, the team felt that they played one of their best games. According to Hosoda, it reflected their hard work from the season. “We hit shots, found the open person, and our defense was solid,” she said. “We ended on a good note. It showed that we improved as a team and individually. We came together and we were more of a ‘fam,’ which is something the girls came up with.”

Sophomore forward and guard Sabrina Serafica floats a layup in the championship game. Photo by Leonard Caoili

The girls definitely grew closer as their season progressed. “Before the game we told each other how much we loved each other and how much we would miss it,” Serafica said. “Everyone was crying because we didn’t want it to end. It was bittersweet.”

Since the beginning of the season, the team has dramatically improved.“We’ve grown a lot on and off the court,” Hosoda said. “A turning point in the season was when we played Mission San Jose. We came from behind and pushed through. We played a tough game and won in overtime. They gave their one hundred percent, and it brought them together as a team. We started as a young and inexperienced team. Now, we’ve become one unit that has become more skilled.”

Most Valuable Player

After losing a majority of the players from last season, co-captain Lui stepped up to lead the Cardinals into another championship game, scoring a game high of nine points in this season’s title game, earning the title of The Lowell’s Most Valuable Player of the season.

Sophomore guard and forward Rufina Lui concentrates on a free throw in the Battle of the Birds on Jan. 16. Lui is one of the team’s captains. Photo by Aida Irving

According to Hosoda, Lui has improved tremendously compared to last year. “She’s much more confident, and she looks like she’s having fun,” she said.

“Everyone on the team respects her and she respects everyone else.”

Also, Lui helped new players make the transition into a high school level game by becoming more vocal on the court.“She was really quiet, but now she’s more of a role model,” Serafica said. “Rufina made sure the freshmen were okay. If they needed help understanding a drill, she would explain it. If they were lost or confused in a game, she would help them.”

Because of her leadership qualities, Lui is respected by her teammates. “Rufina sets a good example with her actions and she’s usually pretty positive,” Hosoda said. “Everyone on the team respects her and she respects everyone else.”