Pep rally spirit inspires young basketball team

Faces painted with purple M’s and pom poms in hand, the crowd’s energy never faded.

In a hard fought game against arch-rival Marymount Feb. 4, the Mustangs lost 60-54, meaning the Mustangs didn’t win the Sunshine League for the first time in six years. But the night was not a lost cause because of the pep rally, hosted by athletic council, and its affect on the team.

The athletes pumped up the crowd, and the crowd pushed the team, which lost all five of its starters from last year. The crowd’s vocal support was something that’s rarely been seen at a regular season game, even during the Mustang’s run of league championships.

“It was really refreshing to see so many students from different grades coming together and cheering their heads off,” said Katt ’11, one of the students who attended.

Co-captain Tyler ’11 said the spirit of the crowd raised the team’s intensity.

“The first half of the game was the best we’ve ever played together as a team,” Tyler said. “You don’t get tired if there is constant energy coming at you,” she added.

Head coach Trenton Jackson said the vibe in the gym “kept us on a level we need to start on and continue on through the game.”

Assistant coach Naoto Tashiro said that the Mustangs fought until the buzzer.

“The players challenge themselves to another level when they have all the student support to back them up,” he said.

The team faced a significant challenge this season with a mostly young, fresh group of players.

“It’s completely normal in high school sports to have transitional periods,” Tashiro said. “Are we competitive? Yes, very.”

Tyler said that experience played a factor in the team’s loss to Marymount.

“We haven’t played together for very long,” she said.

Jackson said that the lack of on-court experience and experience against high-level competition has challenged the team this season.

Against Marymount, the Mustangs were up by ten points at the half, but Tyler said they relaxed too much in the second half and lost the lead.

Katt and Tyler both had muscle cramps in the second half. Tyler had to be pulled out of the game, which allowed Marymount point guard Michelle ’10 to step up her offense.

“We’ve worked hard,” said Marymount’s Michelle ’11, who plays center and forward. “We have seven seniors this year,and it’s a good year for us to win.”

“Marymount won the game, but I’m not so sure we lost it,” Athletic Director David Collicutt said.

Jackson said that his goals this year were to improve the team and prepare for next year.

“This year was a rebuilding program for the future,” he said.

By following the loss to Marymount with wins over Ramona Convent and Notre Dame Academy, the Mustangs finished the season with a 5-3 league record and tied Notre Dame Academy for second place. They will head into the CIF playoffs as an at-large bid, playing Torrance tonight.