Varsity girls stampede Mustangs, claim AAA title

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Originally published on March 10, 2015

Senior point guard captain and MVP Allyson Lui leaps above the Lincoln Mustangs, reaching for a layup in the Cardinals’. Photo by Lily Young

Clawing their way to victory, the varsity girls’ basketball team beat the Lincoln Mustangs 56–39 at the Academic Athletic Association championship on March 6. Though the Cardinals won by 17 points, the Mustangs proved to be tough competition.

The first quarter began and ended as a stalemate. It took the Cardinals two minutes to make a basket, and another three for the Mustangs to score their first. According to head coach Aki Kuwada, this deadlock was due to the “jitters” of playing in a major game. Throughout this quarter and the rest of the game, senior point-guard Allyson Lui lead the team. She scored four points, all of which were free throws, maintaining her reputation from Battle of the Birds. Also contributing, sophomore guard Madison Toy made two three-pointers. As the buzzer rang, the score was 17–12.

“But then we switched to man-to-man, and it really stifled their aggressiveness, affecting their offense.”

The Mustangs started the second quarter strong, scoring a basket within 30 seconds. It took the Cardinals a little over five minutes to rebound and score. With the Cardinal’s momentum down, the Mustangs were almost completely able to catch up, closing the deficit to three points at 27–24.

Junior point guard Tiffany Lowe dribbles past a Lincoln Mustang, getting ready to pass. Photo by Lily Young

At the end of the second quarter, the girls regrouped and decided to change their defensive strategy from zone to man-to-man. This decision was key to the Cardinals’ victory, according to Kuwada. “Reflecting on the game, I think I blew it a little when we went with the zone strategy in the beginning,” Kuwada said. “But then we switched to man-to-man, and it really stifled their aggressiveness, affecting their offense.”

With a new strategy and a boost of energy, the Cardinals began the third quarter scoring six consecutive baskets on the Mustangs. This was the turning point of the game, according to Kuwada. The lead motivated the Cardinals to play harder, making the Mustangs lose momentum. Their confidence was so stuttered that they threw the ball into the crowd, twice. The score at the end of the quarter was 41–32. “Everybody’s momentum started to pick up, and that was what pushed us to the ‘finish line,’” Lui said.

This winning attitude remained throughout the fourth quarter. With Lui leading the team, the Cardinals forced the Mustangs to wait until the last 58 seconds of the game before scoring their second and then third basket. “We maintained our composure and plays,” Kuwada said. “Our confidence built and our pace flowed really well.”

Lui steals the ball from the Lincoln Mustangs and making her way to the basket for a layup. Photo by Lily Young

Throughout the season, the Cardinals had one motto: defense above all. As long as defense comes first, their offense would fall alongside, according to Kuwada. This strategy was a key component to the Cardinals’ victory.

MVP: Allyson Lui

Lui is the team leader in every aspect, according to Kuwada. Her energy on the court attracts all the eyes in the crowd, and encourages the team to play their hardest. “Lui is not only the physical leader of the team by her play on the court, but she is also the spirit of the whole team,” Kuwada said. “She does not even have to score a point. As long as she steps out onto the court and leads us, that is all we need to win.”

“But having still being chosen is such an honor because I get to represent my team and all the training I put into this game.”

The hosts from the AAA also noticed Lui’s extraordinary talent and decided to give her the player of the game award. “This was not one of my best games,” Lui said. “But having still being chosen is such an honor because I get to represent my team and all the training I put into this game.”

Even though her time on Lowell’s basketball team ended, Lui plans on continuing basketball throughout college. “If not for a really competitive team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, then I will play at a club or intramural level,” Lui said. “But as long as I get to play, because I really do love the game.”