For the last seven years, the Mustangs have ruled the CIF-Southern Section. This year they hope to fight their way to hang on to the Sunshine League title.
Only three players returned to the varsity basketball team from last year.
While that might mean wins will be harder to come by, it also means new players from freshmen to a senior such as all-school athletics representative Miranda, who just switched varsity sports, will get the opportunity to improve their game by getting invaluable court time.
“This season has been tough for them and me, but it’s the adversity that makes us better and facing the adversity with less experience is what makes a player a player,” coach Trenton Jackson said.
The team will play in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona this weekend.
Jackson said that practices over the summer gave the team more time to prepare all of the new players on varsity to complement the returning players and add on.
Miranda is a particularly unique new face on the team. She has played club soccer for ten years and was captain of the varsity team. She decided that this was her last opportunity to play basketball at a competitive level, and made the tough decision to switch varsity sports senior year.
“It’s my only chance,” Mirandasaid.
She said that she’s always loved the sport, but the transition hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been challenging to catch up on the plays,” Miranda said. “For me, basketball is more intense than soccer. Soccer is second nature to me. I feel more pressure when I’m on the basketball court because I’m still trying to learn plays and fit in, whereas I’ve been playing soccer all my life. When I got on the court for the first time, I was less confident and felt out of place.”
But her teammates, especially Abigail ’11, have stayed after practices to teach her “post moves,” practicing techniques and drills for her position.
“She’s hustling and always doing extra,” Abigailsaid. “Since she’s already really athletic, she picks up on stuff really fast. She’s excited when I teach her new moves. She’s not afraid to try new things.”
Although not a starter, Jackson said that he wants to maximize Miranda’s potential on the team.
“I said to Miranda, ‘you’re an athlete. You can do anything,’” he said. “I can take anyone that loves what they’re doing and make them something.”
However, Mirandais in no way abandoning soccer. While doing J-period basketball in the fall, Mirandaalso continued to play on her club soccer team. She hopes to continue playing soccer in college, and is now considering playing intramural basketball.
The leadership of returning juniors Tyler Kim, Miwa Tachibana, and Averill has been critical to the strength and foundation of the team this year. Kim and Tachibana both played significant minutes as the guard position last year.
Kim said that stepping up to a leadership position was inevitable so she started preparing last year by becoming more involved.
“I’m really just trying to be an extension of the coach, but on a more personal player-to-player level,” she said.
Abigail said the team is overcoming challenges.
“The transition of rebuilding the team has been hard. Getting how to play with one another is difficult, but we’re moving forward,” Abigail said.
Abigail also said the team made huge strides in the Inglewood Classic tournament.
“We’re getting how to bring out our strengths and play with each other,” Abigail said.
Sunshine league games begin in January.
“We’re going to win first in league, but we will struggle,” Jackson said, referring to the increased competition with Marymount.
“It all comes down to execution, one player’s not going to beat us,” Jackson said.
Article by Phoebe and Colleen