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Bruins, Firebirds Battle in the First Half

The Santa Clara Bruins and Fremont Firebirds basketball squads battled claw-to-claw throughout the first half on Tuesday. The two El Camino league squads went back-and-forth with four lead changes throughout the first half. Going into the third quarter, the Bruins held the slimmest of leads at 19-18, but Head Coach Deedee Kiyota was actually disappointed with their first half performance.

“I actually thought we didn’t play well in the first half, so to me it wasn’t really nice,” responded Kiyota when asked if it was nice to play in a competitive back-and-forth game. “I was disappointed in what we did, but I’m glad we came away with the win. Our defense was a lot better in the second half.”

The second half also saw the Bruins demonstrate better ball movement on the offensive as they outscored the Firebirds 25-18 in the final two quarters. Santa Clara got the ball inside for open layups with more regularity. In the first half, the offense relied far more on the outside shooting of junior captain Annie Liu, who drained three of her five three pointers of the night in the first half.

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“I told my assistant before the game that I hope Annie has a good game because we are probably going to need it,” chuckled Kiyota on her team’s captain. “Through and through she is our leader. Offensively, she had a great game and defensively she’s always our leader too.”

“Usually, I can’t really tell before the game in warmups,” remarked Liu on whether she had a feeling her three-point shot was going to be particularly on point. “I always make sure I practice a lot beforehand, but today my shot was definitely in the right position and I took some good threes.”

Liu also showed off her passing skills by somehow finding a passing lane to teammate Hasitha Dangeti. After having lost her dribble, Liu had two defenders all over her, but threaded the needle for the assist. Freshman Vanessa Calvillo also had an impressive layup, drawing a foul and still managing to make the basket from an extremely tough angle.

With the win, the Bruins improve to 1-4 in league play. As for Fremont, the loss drops their record to 0-4, but the team did see plenty of good signs. In particular, sophomore guard Rakhi Chadalavada had the mid-range jumper working throughout the game.

“Our coach has been working with her on that for a really long time, especially this past week, he’s been getting on her to drive into the key and get that jump shot,” remarked junior guard Anne Hu. “So that progress today was really good to see.”

“We work on that a lot as a team,” acknowledged Fremont Head Coach Miguel Castillo on the mid-range jumper. “But because of her athletic ability and her length, she is fast and quick, she can get in there probably better than others and get up and shoot that jumper.”

With Chadalavada as a sophomore and freshman guard Trinity Lee, the Firebirds should have a bright future ahead.

Fremont will take the court next when they host Monta Vista on Friday, Jan. 24. Santa Clara, meanwhile, plays the same night when they travel to Gunn.

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