The varsity girls’ basketball team won its first playoff game in Bear Creek history against Granite Bay (69-51), earning them the chance to compete for the 2017 Division II CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Girls Basketball Championship.
The team lost in the second round of playoffs against Vanden High School (29-76), but was qualified to compete in the brackets for state and competed on March 8 against Valley Christian of San Jose where they were defeated (29-69).
“This year we’ve improved; our team is a lot more organized and we all got closer as a unit,” sophomore point guard Sarah Ruiz said.
Ruiz was nominated to be the player of the game against Granite Bay on February 22 after scoring 19 points.
Players attribute their success this season to more intense practices and new strategies learned in preparation for their games.
“Every time I went in the gym I felt that we were more focused than we were before,” sophomore Cassidy Byrne said. Byrne led the team with 304 points scored throughout the season.
The team is ranked 26th in Division 2, ranked 164th in the state and ranked 14th in the state for three-point percentages. Three-pointer shots account for over 30% of the total points the team made this year. Junior Vanessa Cochrane led the team this year with 70 three-pointers during the season.
“[Practice] has been way more intense [this year],” Cochrane said. “We have gotten a lot better than last year. I felt that we were more prepared for playoffs.”
The team had about 45 minutes of warm-ups before a majority of their practices, either on the track or in the weight room. They were trained by coach Lawrence Brice to stretch out their muscles in preparation for their two-hour practices.
Another factor influencing the team’s success is the new coach staff, led by head coach Anthony Matthews and assistant coach Barbaro Perez, with new programs implemented into their schedule.
“The mindset the coach had [was different from last year],” senior Breanna Hilliard said. “Coming into the season he had high expectations for us.”
Coach Matthews came from McNair to take over the team, to bring the girls basketball team the farthest they have ever gone in playoffs. Coach Matthews is also the head coach of the Port City AAU basketball team.
“Our new coach pushed us harder so that we could get farther and become a better team,” Byrne said.
The team has gone through the season with many knee and ankle injuries but they have powered through it all so they could continue. Throughout the season, eight players were injured and had to sit out until they recovered.
“I got hurt and it set me back a little but we still pushed through and won the playoff game,” sophomore Deyliana Lewis said.
In spite of losing in the state brackets, the team is still optimistic about next year’s prospects.
“I am excited for next season,” Cochrane said. “I think we will go farther and we will be a lot better team.”