Tuesday night’s 50-40 win over Lynbrook was a good learning lesson for the Santa Clara Bruins varsity basketball squad—don’t take your foot off the gas.
The Bruins quickly went up 10-2 and led 12-5 after the first quarter. However, after both teams failed to score for the first half of the second quarter, Lynbrook took over as the Bruins looked lethargic.
Santa Clara’s seven point first-quarter lead quickly vanished into a double-digit deficit. The Vikings went on a 23-6 run from the midway point of the second quarter to the middle of the third.
“At one point, we just looked completely flat. We had no energy, no hustle,” remarked Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota. “When we went into half, that’s what we told them, ‘You guys are flat. It looks like you don’t really care. You don’t want to be out here. No energy.’”
“I felt like we were just playing scared,” admitted junior center Mia Talalele. “We started making turnovers, trying to dribble through two people.”
“We just got a bit too comfortable with where we were at,” acknowledged senior point guard Nina Llamas. “We couldn’t break their press for a while there, but towards the end, we figured out how to break it better.”
Down 28-18 in the third, the Bruins got back into the game with three quick strikes. Talalele got things started with a tough basket inside, drawing a foul and completing a three-point play.
After a defensive stop, Llamas quickly drained a three to pull back within four.
Lynbrook would hit a pair of free throws to up its lead back to six, but then Bruins guard Kendall Yee drained a three to close the gap to three at 30-27 and Santa Clara was right back in the game.
Yee would drain another three in the fourth quarter, proving herself a key third scorer behind Llamas and Talalele.
“From where she was last year to this year, Kendall has made huge strides. She had a great summer. She came out and worked really hard in the offseason,” praised coach Kiyota on her senior guard. “I knew from the summer that she was going to be a key player, a key starter and be big for us on defense. She worked on a lot of her game over the summer. She hustles on defense, she’s a good ball handler and a good leader out there.”
Llamas and Yee in the backcourt combine with forward Charm Azul as three excellent outside shooters for the Bruins. That trio, with Talalele’s presence inside the paint, should make for a strong combination this season.
The group of four has played together for multiple seasons now at the varsity level. Thus far, the results are backing up the on paper talent, as the win over Lynbrook pushes Santa Clara’s early season record to 5-1.
The Bruins will look to keep the winning vibes going when the team plays at Leigh High School in San Jose this Thursday, Dec. 14.
The Bruins will play three more scheduled non-league/preseason games and a holiday tournament before beginning league play on Jan. 3 against Gunn.