The rivalry matchup between Santa Clara and Wilcox certainly lived up to the hype on Tuesday. The evenly matched squads went back and forth like a heavyweight bout.
The Chargers opened up the game hot with a 7-2 advantage midway through the first quarter. But then the Bruins bounced back beautifully with a 12-5 run to take a 14-12 lead.
From there Wilcox went on a 10-0 run to end the half up 22-14.
Once again, the Bruins rallied to get back in the game in the third quarter. Santa Clara scored 9 of the first 11 points in the third to pull back within a single point at 24-23. Wilcox put an end to the Bruins’ run by pulling away a little bit to 28-23 before Santa Clara drained a three to pull back within 2.
Back and forth they went. The Chargers pushed their lead back to 5 at 31-26, and then Santa Clara pulled within 3 at 31-28 midway through the fourth quarter.
At this point, the Chargers went on the final run of the game. Wilcox closed out the Bruins with impressive defense and guards Dexie Medida and Ilaisa Dela Rosa attacked the rim on offense. The Chargers finished the game on an 8-2 run to win by a 39-30 final.
“Coming onto the court just for warmups, the adrenaline was already there,” chimed Medida on the intensity of the rivalry game. “The crowd was buzzing, but we held our composure and got the win.”
The win over the Bruins was almost like winning against a carbon copy of themselves for the Chargers. Both squads have strong guards who can shoot from the outside and a dominant presence inside in the paint.
Santa Clara guards Vanessa Calvillo and Nina Llamas with Mia Talalele at center are an extremely impressive trio. Wilcox guards Medida, Dela Rosa and Lilly Muyco with forward/center combos Addy Munoz and Gielle Holubiczko are likewise tough for opponents to deal with.
Perhaps the key difference between the two teams is depth. Wilcox has elite guard play and a secret weapon outside shooter in Amanda Atayde who doesn’t handle the ball much but drains three-pointers in clutch spots. Below the bucket, they have Munoz and Holubiczko doing an impressive job controlling the glass at both ends as Wilcox dominated the Bruins in terms of points in the paint.
“It’s a team effort,” remarked Chargers Head Coach Justin Fujihara on the job his squad did defending down low. “As a team, we try to tell ourselves to own the glass. [Gielle and Addy] rise to the occasion when they come up against the other team’s best rebounder. They want to show they are a force to be reckoned with.”
Munoz and Holubiczko certainly showed they can control the glass, particularly on the defensive end in this one. Dela Rosa and Medida iced the game offensively with impressive drives to the bucket, scoring toughly contested layups late in the fourth quarter.
The victory improves the Chargers record to 2-1 in league. Santa Clara falls to 1-3 in league. Both squads play next on Thursday, Jan. 12. The Chargers take on Gunn, while the Bruins go up against Mountain View.