Composed of just 11 girls, five of whom are underclassmen, the Chargers Girls Basketball team competed in its game on Friday, Dec. 5 and is charging into its legaue season after a pre-season record of 4-5. Under captains Melissa Fletcher ’15 and Sienna Gonzales ’16, the girls have conditioned endlessly since November to not only experiment with Head Coach Terry Smith ’s new plays but also to perfect the basics.
This year, with athletes from every grade level, diversity has aided in fueling improvement through competition. The Chargers have shown significant signs of progress since last year; for example, they beat Willow Glen, a team they had previously lost to. Although this does not immediately signal success in the future, it gives reason to believe that this year, the team can go further.
Experience has helped the girls as well. Compared to last year, when most of the players were freshmen, this year, the team’s returning stars and battle-hardened athletes are ready to help the program.
In constrast to their tested athletes, the team also consists of two outstanding freshmen — Caitlin Nguyen ’18 and Chae-Eun Kim ’18. Despite their young age, they know that they have tough competition ahead and use this knowledge as motivation to push themselves during practice every five times a week.
The Chargers’ first three pre-season games ended in similar fashion. Unfortunately, they could not get past their opponents’ defense and fell short to Los Gatos, Valley Christian and Carlmont in hard fought yet challenging starting games.
However, like true competitors who embody perseverance and determination, the girls did not allow this rocky start to lower their confidence. Instead, they kept believing in their teammates .
“Of course we all felt down, especially after certain games, because we knew that we had the chance to win. But we all knew that it was early in the season and that in order to turn our season around, we just had to learn from our mistakes,” Sun Bang ’17 said.
Two days later, the team competed against Gilroy on Monday, Dec. 15. Fletcher was the top scorer of the game with 21 points, and Gonzales followed closely behind with 16. The two stars led the Chargers to a 51-46 victory.
With five gameless days, the team kept up this new momentum in practice; they began passing and shooting with more precision, seeking improvement, not perfection. On Saturday, Dec. 20, they headed to Christopher for their fifth pre-season game. The girls’ chemistry was evident on the court, and their cooperation soon paid off. Everything they learned in practice was falling into place, and they won 47-43.
Even on winter break, the girls kept up their hard work. On Tuesday, Dec. 23, they won against Willow Glen. With Gonzales once again as one of the top scorers (this time with 15 points), the team was also led by Nguyen with 13.
“Being on such a supportive team with so many experienced players has really helped me become a better competitor. Everyone is willing to help each other, and that’s what allows me to do my part for the team,” Nguyen said.
The girls have turned aroud from a slow start. Instead of letting their losses get to them, they were determined to redeem themselves; they have done exactly that. Their current league record of 2-0, after 62-30 win over Independence and 47-45 win against Sobrato, proves that they can cope with any opponent when they play to their full potential.