Red roses, iPhones, proud parents and smiling girls in white jerseys littered the gym floor.
Coach Matt Vargo and the underclassmen from both the varsity and JV girls’ basketball teams were paying their respects to the three girls who would never play basketball for Country Day on that floor again: Saachi Sikaria, Maddy Judd and Julia Owaidat.
After receiving basketballs autographed by their teammates and their red roses, the girls had to prove that they were going to give the Esparto High School Spartans everything they had.
And they did, crushing the Spartans, 51-29, on Feb. 11.
From the beginning (after the referees had to re-tip the ball and after Owaidat’s sixth-grade brother, Malek, had to run underneath the bleachers for the ball), the Cavs led.
Owaidat scored her one 3-pointer of the game, and the girls began sinking lots of shots.
During the first quarter, all the seniors were in, and the Cavs scored 15 points, their strongest single quarter offensively in the game.
But according to sophomore Yasmin Gupta, the leading scorer with 21 points, the girls got a little too comfortable in the beginning.
“Our ball movement wasn’t the best in the first quarter because we were a little too confident,” Gupta said.
Throughout the rest of the game, however, their ball-handling and defense improved.
Owaidat led the team in assists, with 6.
And Sikaria made all of her shots, including a 3-pointer.
According to Vargo, the seniors really were the stars of the team against Esparto.
“They played quality minutes,” Vargo said. “They moved the ball well and really motivated their teammates. I could really see how the rest of the team was inspired to play hard and give it their all tonight.”
Sophomore Annya Dahmani also set a new personal record for steals, nabbing seven.
Freshman Heidi Johnson, who said during the pre-game ceremony that she looked up to Sikaria, scored 12 points and had 5 blocks. She also grabbed seven rebounds, tying with 5’11” Gupta.
Although Owaidat said this game was “bittersweet” for her, she is still looking forward to the girls’ final game next Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. at Vaca Pena Middle School against Buckingham Charter.
—By Chardonnay Needler