There were absolutely no signs of a Christmas hangover for the Santa Clara Bruins girls varsity squad on Tuesday, Dec. 27. The Bruins improved their perfect record to 11-0, cruising to a 53-25 win over Live Oak. Santa Clara particularly dominated on the defensive-end of the floor with tremendous performances by both senior Devyn Snyder and junior Yvonne Delgado. On their first few offensive possessions the Bruins weren’t able to get a shot to fall, but that stifling defense held the Acorns to a single bucket until the offense found its groove.
The Bruins are a well-coached squad as Head Coach Deedee Kiyota has her veteran group maintaining a consistent work-ethic and team-first attitude.
“We come out in the second-half and we say it’s 0-0,” commented senior Taylor Snyder on not sitting back on a 26-8 halftime lead. “We go out and compete like it’s the beginning of another game.”
When asked about one of her teammates setting the tone, Taylor showed the maturity to stand her ground and disagree with this reporter’s observation when many of her peers might just answer in a cliche agreement.
“I wouldn’t say that one person sets the tone for the entire team. Each day, each game is completely different. If you look at our statistics, it’s not like one player is out there every single time being the star player. We have each person with their on and off days.”
Coach Kiyota also has her team focused on the task at hand. She doesn’t want her players thinking about being undefeated, noting that worrying about the winning streak can inhibit natural instincts on the court.
“I told them not to focus on being undefeated because I felt if they focused on that then they would be afraid to play,” commented the coach. “Don’t be afraid to lose, just play the game, don’t worry about our record. Go out and play the game like we normally do.”
Santa Clara’s defense was particularly impressive in the first half when the Bruins held the Acorns to just eight points. Not only did Devyn Snyder lead the way with a number of steals, but she also broke up a handful of passes that went out of bounds rather than to Live Oak players for shooting opportunities. Similarly, Delgado was all over the defensive end with multiple impressive steals leading to fast-break points the other way.
“For us, that’s normal to see that from our press,” commented coach Kiyota on the steals. “That’s what we do, that’s our game plan, to work the press and try to get as many steals as we can.”
“It helps to have a lot of experience because we’re both seniors,” added Taylor Snyder about her and her sister. “All of us can just read plays really well and anticipate passes from the other team.”
Defensive stars Snyder and Delgado also chipped in nine and 10 points respectively, the second and third leading scorers in the game behind Kaleigh Watanabe’s game-high 13 points.
As a smaller team, the Bruins did a tremendous job spreading the ball around on the offensive side of things against a taller Live Oak roster. One of the Bruins’ stronger players in the paint is Katherine Knowles. While Knowles still got her points and rebounds, the ball movement on the perimeter and fast-break points were even more vital in this contest. At both ends, Santa Clara’s athleticism and rebounding were quite impressive.
“Our last two games there were tall opponents and we’re a small team” commented coach Kiyota. “My assistant and I were looking at [Live Oak before the game] and we were like ‘they’re huge.’ It’s always a test when you don’t have a tall big.”
“We just have to play faster and more aggressive,” chimed Taylor Snyder on the bigger opponents. “You just have to think that you’re bigger, play like you’re that height.”
Taylor takes tremendous pride in passing and was all smiles when assisting on teammate Dejah Swanson’s and-one basket in the second half.
“I like setting up other people, passing is kind of my thing.”