How does this team beat the Eagles? D-Fense

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By Cynthia Leung

Originally published on February 5, 2015

Freshman forward Nomin Rinchin tries to pass a defender in the JV girls’ basketball team’s 38–12 victory over the Washington Eagles on Jan. 16 in the Battle of the Birds. Photo by Aida Irving

The JV girls’ basketball team dominated the Washington Eagles in the Battle of the Birds at Kezar Stadium on Jan. 16, winning their first regular season game 38–12.

The first quarter started off slowly for the Cardinals, but progressively stronger defense and teamwork alleviated early challenges. The team’s success was highlighted by sophomore forward and guard Sabrina Serafica’s layup after an assist from sophomore guard Madeline Quach. The Cardinals ended the first quarter leading the Eagles 8–4.

Progressively stronger defense and teamwork alleviated early challenges.

The Cardinals continued to play impeccable defense, holding the Eagles scoreless in the second quarter. However, they struggled to get their offense going. After earning a point off a free throw early on, the Cardinals did not score again until late in the quarter when Quach stole the ball and passed it up to sophomore guard and forward Sharon Hsu, who made the layup and had three points in the game. Stealing the ball was a recurring theme as freshman forward Joanne Thai stole the ball and led freshman guard Samantha Kwock, who scored six points, to make a layup. By the end of the second quarter, the Cardinals were ahead 21–4.

Again, defense was the key for the Cards in the third quarter as they held the Eagles to a mere six points. After a steal by one of her teammates, sophomore guard and forward Rufina Lui scored a layup. The girls continued to extend their lead, and going into the fourth and final quarter, led 32–10.

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

“They are very good at adapting when game plans change and help each other.”

The last quarter saw more of the same from the Cardinals, who kept Eagle scoring to a minimum, surrendering just two points. Freshman forward Nomin Rinchin, Kwock and freshman guard Victoria Huang scored a combined six points in the fourth quarter, helping Lowell secure a 38–12 victory.

Both sophomore guard Kirsten Kuang and freshman guard Gabrielle Lau each contributed four points in the victory against the Washington Eagles. Quach scored three points, Thai had four points, and Serafica had five points. Lui led the team with seven points.

Freshman guard Samantha Kwock takes control of the ball in the Battle of the Birds on Jan. 16. Photo by Aida Irving

Season Preview

After losing in the championship last season to the Washington Eagles, the JV girls’ basketball team hopes to take back the title and improve.

After losing a majority of players, the team is now made of 11 freshmen and 5 sophomores. With only three returning sophomores, the team has worked hard to help the freshmen transition from playing in a middle school setting to a high school level. “The biggest challenge is making the transition,” assistant coach Matthew Magsanay said. “It’s difficult transitioning into a high school setting. For example, the speed is a lot faster. It’s good when we play against sophomore-heavy teams because that’s how we learn.”

“It’s good when we play against sophomore-heavy teams because that’s how we learn.”

Despite being new to the team, the new players are stepping up to make the transition. “They get along well with the returners,” Magsanay said. “They are very good at adapting when game plans change and help each other.”

The team captains, sophomores guard Kirsten Kuang, guard and forward Rufina Lui and forward and guard Sabrina Serafica, have helped these new players by leading the team in various ways. “The team captains keep the team on top of everything like our schedules or team bondings,” head coach Christine Hosoda said.

The team’s starters mostly consist of sophomores. They include Serafica, Lui, sophomore guard and forward Sharon Hsu, sophomore guard Madeline Quach and freshman forward Joanne Thai. “The sophomores are key players,” Hosoda said. “They lead by example and have a good idea where to cut and how to defend. They have more experience.” Cutting in basketball involves a quick change in direction to move away from the defense.

Sophomore forward and guard Sabrina Serafica drives down the court on Jan. 16. Serafica scored five points in the Battle of the Birds. Photo by Aida Irving

However, according to both Hosoda and Magsanay, the team’s communication on the court can improve. “Most of us don’t talk a lot on the court, but it’s getting better,” Lui said. “We do drills to make us talk about where we are on the court.”

“Now, we know how to use each of our talents to help the team as a whole.”

The preseason game against Alameda in the Piedmont tournament on Dec. 29–31 was an example of the improvement in communication as well as court awareness and ball movement on offense. “In terms of breaking the press, their passes were quicker and cleaner, and they saw the open person clearer,” Hosoda said. “On the offensive end, we saw the cutters cut to the open spots.” The team weaved through Alameda’s full-court defense by making better passes and being more aware on the court.

Initially, the team had a rough start, losing their first preseason game against Sacred Heart Cathedral 50–21 on Dec. 4. However, they bounced back from the loss, winning the next five preseason games. “In the beginning, we didn’t know how to work together,” Quach said. “Now, we know how to use each of our talents to help the team as a whole.”