To read about the games on Dec. 10, please click here. To read about the games from the Redding tournament, please click here.
The girls’ basketball team was looking at a slow start when the season began. It had lost three starters, including Mary-Clare Bosco, ’13, who led the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks.
But at the season’s opening game against Freedom Christian, Dec. 3, the girls surprised the crowd and even themselves with a victory, 30-26.
The Cavs were down 10 points in the third quarter, and it seemed as if sophomore Saachi Sikaria’s pre-game fears were coming true.
“During the warm-ups, I was looking at (the opponents) and thinking that they were too good for us,” Sikaria said.
Freshman Anny Schmidt said the team adjusted and improved in the second half. After realizing they were creating too many 3-point opportunities for the other team, the Cavs changed their defensive formation.
“We really put our minds into it and became more aggressive,” Schmidt said.
Junior Isabella Tochterman agreed and said the team did well under pressure.
Despite the last-minute comeback, Tochterman said she wishes the team could stay more consistent and said they could use more practices.
“We figured out what our weaknesses are, what we need to work on, and where we stand against other teams,” she said.
Sikaria thinks the team is doing well on rebounding and ball control, but needs improvements on shooting
The team currently has seven players: two freshmen, three sophomores, a junior and a senior. Only four are returning players.
Besides Tochterman and sophomore Julia Owaidat, who are guards, the other members are still trying to find positions that suit them. Bosco’s departure, according to Sikaria, has had a major impact.
“She used to do all the shots with help from us, but now everyone has to contribute,” Sikaria said.
Tochterman, especially, has big shoes to fill. She showed great promise as a starter last year, leading the team in field goal percentage, assists, steals—and she was the second highest scorer after Bosco. Naturally, the team looks to her to carry the team.
“I have to play point guard and have to bring the ball up and also shoot,” Tochterman said. “I get tired.”
“Tochterman definitely has the most experience,” coach Matt Vargo said. “But players like Julia Owaidat and (sophomore) Emily Berke did show lots of promise last year.”
Sikaria said that the team isn’t focused on making the playoffs, as it did last year.
“Our goal is to get better and win a couple games, so we can make playoffs next year,” she said.
The team traveled to the annual Redding tournament this past weekend. Results were unavailable at press time.
When teacher Daniel Neukom walked into the gym for the first game of the boys’ basketball season against Freedom Christian on Dec. 3, he saw an unusually large bench of 12 players—a rare sight in recent years.
Granted, it was a game in which both the JV and the varsity teams played, but the large amount of basketball players wasn’t the only thing that drew Neukom’s attention.
“The odd thing that I saw was the number of freshmen that were put into the game very early on,” Neukom said, referring to freshmen Aidan Cunningham (a starter who played the whole game) and Emil Erickson and Christian Van Vleck, who were put in a few minutes after the game started.
“It’s pretty unusual—I would expect the older boys who are taller and more experienced to start,” Neukom said.
The problem is that the team lacks such players. After core players Morgan Bennett-Smith, ’13, and Donald Hutchinson, ’13, graduated, the team was left in the hands of mostly sophomores and juniors.
When the game began, junior Skovran Cunningham, the tallest player at 6 feet, lost the tip-off to an opponent at least 4 inches taller.
“I thought ‘Uh, oh—this is going to be a long night,’” Neukom said.
After the first 15 minutes, the Cavs were already trailing by eight points, and when Neukom left at halftime, they were still trying to catch up.
Little did he know that the Cavs would make a comeback during the second half from double-digit deficits to almost tying the game. The Cavs lost narrowly, 38-40.
Sophomore Serajh Esmail, a point guard, said the team put in a lot of effort but suffered from “first-game kinks.”
Esmail said the team was making bad passes and turnovers and suffering from missed layups and free throws.
When the second half began, the Cavs tried a different strategy.
“We pressed during the second half, tried to steal the ball and make (the opponents) mess up, worked on spacing, ball movements, and getting our shots in,” Esmail said.
In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, the Cavs had a chance to tie with a field goal or win with a 3-pointer. But yet another error with bad passing led to a turnover.
Junior Jaspreet Gill said nerves affected the whole team.
“We need to cope with that pressure so we can finish our plays, ” he said.
The team is missing senior Patrick Talamantes, who had played basketball since middle school.
After his ankle injury during soccer season, Talamantes decided to rest for the lacrosse season in spring.
However, Talamantes did attend the game against Freedom Christian to show support.
While admitting that the team could probably benefit if he had played, he said they performed really well.
“There was a lot of effort, and sometimes in the past we had none,” Talamantes said. “Skovran got the double-double—he was doing all the work on rebounding. (Junior) George (Cvetich) has at least 12 points off three-pointers.”
Both Gill and Esmail said the team lacks not just experience and mechanics but also height—something that Talamantes, standing at 6 feet, could have contributed.
“He was our big man,” Esmail said. “He would have been tough and guarded the baskets by boxing out people.”
Other players, however, are stepping up.
“At the end of last season, we already knew that we wouldn’t be able to rely on Morgan and Donald to score,” Skovran said.
“A lot of the returning players—me, George, (sophomore) Brad (Petchauer)—we practiced a lot.”
Although the team could use more experience and practices, Skovran said he’s impressed with the players’ intensity.
“As a team, everyone was diving for loose balls, putting themselves in positions even though they aren’t super skilled or star players,” he said.
The Cavs played at the Redding Christian Holiday Tournament this past weekend. Results were unavailable at press time.