The gym was raucous as a throng of El Dorado Adventist School supporters filled an entire side of the gym, loudly cheering their own team on.
The Country Day spectators were fewer in number, but honored the Country Day mantra of “small but mighty.” They matched El Dorado’s intensity scream for scream.
And it paid off with a girls’ varsity win, 54-48, in the second league game of the season.
How unfortunate for the rowdy El Dorado fans, as their loud yells to refs and players were at worst described as “annoying” by junior Annya Dahmani.
The game started off easy.
By the first quarter the Cavs were leading, 17-7, and by halftime, 31-20, but the fight was nowhere near over.
When junior Yasmin Gupta fouled out on an offensive drive in the first minute of the third quarter, it made the second half an uphill battle.
“It’s hard playing without your best player, so we had to step it up,” Dahmani said.
Bad passes, a lack of rebounding presence and fouls left room for a comeback.
“The other team knew Yasmin was an important player and capitalized on that, the momentum shifting and (their) actually tying the game,” sophomore Heidi Johnson said.
“Luckily, though, we kept it under control (with) several timeouts and free throws that gave us rest.”
Fouls were heavy on both sides.
“We fouled way too much, and fouls (were) where they got (the) majority of their points because they’re a good free-throw shooting team,” junior Katia Dahmani said.
But fouls on SCDS players were also what gave the Cavs many points and eventually secured the lead.
“(For example), Annya drove in and got fouled repeatedly so she could go to the free throw line where she was fairly consistent,” Johnson said.
Another big problem was height, which was amplified by the loss of Gupta, the tallest player.
“All their starters were 5 feet 9 inches and above, and we have a pretty short team to begin with, so that didn’t really help,” Annya said.
And with height came rebounds.
“They were able to get more than one shot on us, which shouldn’t have been the case,” Annya said.
“We didn’t crash boards (rebound) as much as we should have, which allowed the other team to have a bunch of putbacks,” she said.
This game was also significant because of the arrival of former varsity player Julia Owaidat, ‘16, who had participated in the college freshman panel and stayed for the game, offering advice and support to her former teammates.
“When I got to the game, Yasmin already had three fouls in the first quarter, which was a shock to me since I play with her a lot, and I know she’s smarter than that defensively,” Owaidat said.
“It was a bad combination of poor defense from the other team and Yasmin being more aggressive getting to the basket than what the refs are used to seeing in this league.”
The next game is Friday, Jan. 6, at Jesuit High School against Cristo Rey High School at 6 p.m.