Editor’s note: Olympian greats Sarah Nosseir and Nina Bessolo are documenting their experiences on the girls varsity basketball team.
Week 1: Tryouts, players chosen, first practices
By Sarah Nosseir
If you’ve never played high school sports before, I’m here to tell you that it is a huge leap up from both recreational and middle school sports. Most people think of basketball as a man’s sport, and that many girls are too weak to perform to the standards set by society. While that may be true, girls also bring a different kind of entertainment to the sport. What used to be a sport that involved just the player with the ball, girls introduce a new concept to the sport: passing. Basketball becomes a team sport, something which all five players on the court are involved in, making the game that much more interesting.
During the week of November 9, Castro Valley High had its girls basketball tryouts, full of intense conditioning and training. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was all it took for the varsity coaches to realize who they wanted playing for their team, and a 14-girl team was solidified by 5:30 Wednesday evening. This was a great day for some, yet a disappointing one for many. Twenty-four hopeful teenagers appeared in the gym that day, and ten, which included seniors and freshmen alike, walked out with their head drooping, faces fallen. However, the other 14 were excited, holding their breaths in anticipation of the long, hard-fought season to come.
The first practice on Nov. 12 was a confirmation day for the coaches, proving to themselves that they had made the right decision with their team. All 14 girls worked incredibly hard, sweating out every ounce of energy they had. Each and every one of them deserved to be on the varsity team, and each and every one of them showed it in practice by putting in as much effort as they could and working together.
To me, the main difference between girls basketball and boys basketball is the mentality of basketball as a team sport. Boys, faced with one defender and one open player, would mostly rather take the defender one on one and score themselves. A typical girl however, would usually pass, get open, and make the easier shot, even if it wasn’t only her making the play. I think boys place more importance on the amount of points scored than the overall difference they made in the game. Boys focus more on scoring and getting to the hoop than playing intense defense and making assists. A girl would consider a game with ten assists and good defense a success, while a boy just sees the big goose egg where the points scored is displayed.
These are just a few of the differences that make watching boys and girls basketball such different experiences. Whether you prefer one over the other, is simply a matter of style.
Week 2: “Our team can go very far together”
By Nina Bessolo
Sweat, skill, strength, strain, stamina, soreness and sportsmanship. This is what basketball is all about. If you’re not willing to work through the pain, basketball is not your sport. This is what the CVHS girls varsity basketball team went through during every day of tryouts.
After our team of 14 girls was selected, we began practicing six days a week. At first, it was difficult because we were still getting in shape and getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Soon Nov.18 rolled around and we had our first scrimmage against Miramonte. Miramonte is ranked as one of the best teams in the country and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to play against them. At 7 p.m. that evening, sneakers were squeaking, sweat was pouring, shots were blocked, and the energy level was high.
We lost the first three hard fought quarters, however, we were motivated to try and beat them in the fourth quarter. During the fourth quarter both teams were battling to compete with one another until it came down to the last five seconds of the game. While Miramonte was inbounding the ball, our team got a steal and Ziyah Starks, one of our players, banked in a runner from behind the three point line to win the quarter! While our team rejoiced, Miramonte was snarling like angry bears.
A few days later after our team’s success, we began to prepare for Tuesday’s game on Nov 24 against Moreau Catholic which was a “foundation game.” Our team did not have our best performance. Passes were being deflected, shots were being missed, sportsmanship was lacking at times, and some minor injuries occurred. We won a very close game, and we learned to not take anything for granted.
On Nov 28, after Thanksgiving and the lesson learned from our previous game, we played another scrimmage at Dougherty Valley. We played at 9 a.m. and came in with a tough mindset. We also won that game by a large amount and played outstandingly as a team. The plays that our coach Jim Lemmon had designed for us were going smoothly and our defense was unstoppable.
As Rocky Balboa says, “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
Keeping each other positive and motivated, our team can go very far together.
Week 3: “Learning from your experiences”
By Sarah Nosseir
Basketball is about many things, most of which involve a lot of effort and sweat, but I think the most important thing I can take away from basketball would be the ability to become a team player.
Basketball has shaped me in so many different ways; I can’t possibly imagine who I would be if I hadn’t chosen to tryout for basketball at the ripe age of five years old. Looking back, it may or may not be one of the decisions that has the most significant impact on the person I am today. It is definitely not something I regret.
Even doing everyday activities such as sitting in class, I am able to draw tremendous parallels between something as simple as raising my hand to passing the ball in basketball. Raising my hand to speak indicates that the conversation or discussion be redirected to myself and what I have to say. In basketball, when I am passed the ball, it redirects the attention of the crowd to my hands. This is just one of many examples in which basketball reflects in daily life, and one example of how basketball has enriched my life.
As for the girls varsity basketball team, we are currently 3-1 in our record of games. Our one loss was to Pittsburg High School. It was a tough game by both teams, although coming out of that game was a bit disappointing as it was only our second home game, and fourth game overall. The whole game was full of tension and the lead changed sides just about every few minutes. Back and forth, both sides were losing energy. Sweat drips down the necks of the hard-working players. Both teams are crossing their fingers, hoping to hold out just long enough for a fourth quarter win. But a few late turnovers and a couple extra free throws in their favor, and we were down by seven points with under a minute to play. One play and about 40 seconds later, we had shortened the lead to five, but spirit was still running low. The final horn eventually rang, and we retreated into the locker room, heads down, and disappointment ran through our veins.
We were prepared to be sternly yelled by the coach and assumed that practice the next day would consist of running in the form of punishment. Yet the coach explained the exact areas where we went wrong, and told us how to fix them in great detail. So we picked our heads up, and walked out of our gym with dignity. Practice the next day consisted of 14 determined, hard-working girls, playing with immense effort, which, coupled with the amount of skill we possess as a team. It was a combination for success.
In the upcoming Saturday, we had a team get-together at one of the players’ houses, to bond more as a team, and get to know each other’s’ strengths and weaknesses. I won’t say too much about the details of what happened, since what happens at Giana’s house stays at Giana’s house. But it was a fun way to come together as a team, and raise spirits after a rough loss just a few days before.
As shown by the Warriors, no team can win everything, and being a good team isn’t only about the results. Watching them lose was not an enjoyable experience, but simply watching the game is entertaining. It makes you think they’re having all the fun in the world, and you get hyped up and have an urge to join them on the court. In the end, that’s what basketball is all about: enjoying yourself and learning from your experiences.
Week 4: Trojans win Jamboree crown
By Nina Bessolo
Over winter break, the Castro Valley girls basketball team hosted and participated in the West Coast Jamboree, the nation’s largest girls high school basketball tournament. One hundred twenty eight teams from all over the West gathered in the East Bay at multiple sites. Castro Valley’s varsity team challenged teams from as far away as Ukiah and as close as Hayward in the Emerald bracket.
Despite several health concerns, senior Jamie Massey with a sprained ankle and junior Gianna Wright with a stomach virus, aggressive play led to three wins and the championship. Despite Wright’s illness, her tenacious play earned her the MVP of the bracket. On one particular game, Wright pulled a career high with 19 rebounds. Both Bailey Jones and Ziyah Starks received all-tournament medals for their impressive offense.
One of the reasons Castro Valley’s team is so dangerous is because of depth. Mica Suarez, the most senior member of the team, went three for three behind the arc and despite her tiny stature pulled five rebounds in one game. Trinity Copeland, whose tremendous length led to rebounds and putbacks, scored as many as ten points in one game. The Trojans packed a powerful punch with their skilled players.
Haven’t had a chance to see the girls play? Don’t worry. There are 15 games left in the regular season including eight home games.
Week 5: Trojans open league season on hot streak
By Sarah Nosseir
Whenever the Golden State Warriors are mentioned in a conversation, people always tend to think of their iconic record 38-4. However, the Warriors are so much more than numbers on a statistics sheet. The reason they have so many viewers and fans is not just their amazing tendency to win, but their entertaining and enjoyable way of playing that makes them so much fun to watch. The viewer can easily tell that every single one of the players loves his job, loves to be out on the court doing what he does best. It makes the watchers want to play basketball, even if they have never touched a basketball in their lives.
Looking at CVHS girls varsity basketball team’s record, 15-2, other teams put out a target for us. They make it their main goal to beat us, the number one team in NCS Division 1. Other teams scout us and send people to film our games to study our way of playing to adjust their way of playing to stop us. What those teams don’t understand is that we play the same way every game. Great teams don’t need to change their way of playing to win games. Even though other teams know each of our set plays and defenses, if we go out there and execute, we can still win.
However, nothing is guaranteed yet. There is still a lot of hard work and effort to be put in if we want to make it to state champs. Just showing up to practice and giving it all we got is the first step to success.
As Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
Week 6: Rebounding from a tough loss
By Nina Bessolo
The girls varsity basketball team was 15-2 after an 11-point loss to Bishop O’Dowd; however, the team earned three straight wins last week for a record of 18-2.
The first game took place on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Encinal High School in Alameda. As soon as the referee threw the ball up, bodies began slamming against one another, and both sides were scrambling for loose balls. Despite the strength and intimidation of Encinal’s players, they could not compete with the athleticism of the Trojans. The final score of the game was 67-57.
The second game took place at CVHS against San Lorenzo High on Friday Jan. 22. The Trojans came out to a slow start early in the first quarter. Then Coach Jim Lemmon made substitutions. One highlight of the game was when Payton Stanberry, a freshman, scored on a beautiful inside move. Another highlight was when Kassady Marasigan, a sophomore, scored seven points, and made three rapid steals. The Trojans were victorious by the final score of 69-25.
The third game took place on Jan. 23 at Bentley High School in Orinda. It was a rematch against Encinal. The Trojans took a 12-2 lead in the early first quarter; however, this situation motivated Encinal to play harder. Destiny Kelly, a senior at Encinal, knocked down a number of threes which brought Encinal back into the game and eventually propelled them to a ten-point lead late in the second quarter. Trojan senior Mica Suarez played very good defense on Kelly and shut her down. At the half, Encinal was up by eight points. After a half-time discussion in the locker room, we came out with a competitive look on our faces. The game tightened up during the third quarter when the two teams traded leads. Finally, in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter we made a run, scoring the last 13 points of the game, to take the lead and win the game by the final score of 58-49!
In summary, several Trojans played exceptionally well in the three games: Bianca Greer, a sophomore, combined for ten points, three assists, and seven steals. Jamie Massey, a senior, combined for nine points, and eight rebounds. Trinity Copeland, a freshman, combined for nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, and five steals. In a previous game against Arroyo, Kelsey Marasigan, scored eight points and had two rebounds.
Week 7: The chemistry of basketball
By Sarah Nosseir
Back for more insider information on your favorite girls basketball team? Well I am ready to deliver. CVHS Girls Basketball team is now 25-2, having just defeated Tennyson 64-10 in the very first playoff game of the season. After finishing in first place in our league with an outstanding record of 24-2, the entire team was hyped up and ready to start league playoffs on a good note, and we definitely made that happen. However, basketball isn’t just about wins and losses, although our coaches may tell you differently (just kidding, mostly). Over the course of this season, I have made so many good friends and bonds that can surely never be broken.
Out of all three years of playing Castro Valley Basketball, this year has my favorite team by far. I can honestly say that I love each and every player on our team. On previous teams, there has been competition for playing time, and just overall drama within the team. However, this year, there has been nothing but love, and we are all happy for one another when we play well.
But it is the unwavering chemistry with each other that helps us play so well against the other teams. We all understand each other, so whenever one of us makes a pass, there is always a teammate who makes the connection and steps in to receive it. Communication is such a key part of playing basketball and I know for a fact that we would not have this amazing record, if we had not all gotten along. This is also something the Golden State Warriors excel at. Their chemistry, on and off the court, is undeniable. But they don’t just play to win, just like us. We both play for ourselves, the wins just keep coming.
So don’t forget to come to the next girls basketball game to support your favorite team, after the Warriors of course.
Week 8: League Champions!
By Nina Bessolo
The lady Trojans varsity basketball team went tooth and nail against two of the toughest teams in their league. In order to claim the league title they had to go up against San Leandro and Encinal high schools.
On Friday, Nov. 18 the Trojans played the San Leandro Pirates at CVHS. The Trojans came charging out onto the court and led the first quarter with an eight point lead of 16-8. The Trojans ended up outscoring the Pirates in every quarter and came out with the win! The Trojans have now advanced to the League Championship Playoffs Bailey Jones hit three three-pointers and finished the game with 22 points. Giana Wright made a huge impact by getting seven rebounds, five assists, and six steals and two blocks.
On Saturday, Nov. 20 the Trojans played at Chabot College for the league championship against the Encinal Jets. As soon as Coach Jim Lemmon was done preparing the girls for the big game, the Trojans advanced to the court. One of Encinals’ primary players was a senior known for knocking down threes anywhere on the court. The Trojans had to lock her up by playing close to her so that she would not be comfortable with the three. Calista Burnama shut her down! Trinity Copeland played a big role by getting two hard blocks, and finished with four points. The Trojans won the game with the score of 60-43!
Week 9: The End
By Sarah Nosseir
All good things must come to an end, and although it may seem disappointing and premature at the time, more often than not you’ll find that it’s for the best. This applies to all great things, including CVHS’ girls basketball team, the runner-ups for champions of all of Northern California. Our season was long and well-earned, consisting of 12-hour weeks, and many grueling conditioning sessions. We didn’t make it to the NorCal champs because another team lost to give us their place and we fought tooth and nail for every single spot we gained to advance forward. We put ourselves into that championship, and although we didn’t manage to snag the win, we will definitely be back next year.
The game on March 5 was the North Coast Section (NCS) championship, which we managed to pull out a victory in. It was not a difficult game, strategy and skill wise, but the whole team’s endurance and will to win was tested to the max. Although Heritage was trailing nearly the entire game, they kept up the pace and never gave up. So it took a lot of gritty fighting from our side to maintain the lead, and win the game, making us NCS champions.
Looking back on this year, there were high moments such as winning NCS championships, and low moments like losing NorCal championships, but I wouldn’t trade it away for anything. Each of the difficult moments made the great moments that much better. I don’t think we would have gotten to where we were if we hadn’t lost a few games and faced a few hardships and injuries along the way. Each of those setbacks helped shape the team into what we are today, and although it’s time to hang up our uniforms, each and every one of us will take something away from this season that will stay with us forever: friendship. Even to the seniors, being around them everyday at practice has made me a better basketball player, and a better person and I hope I influenced them in the same way. This season, we created a legacy. We will be remembered for the rest of CVHS basketball seasons. We are legends.