On senior night at Wilcox, the home Chargers squad rode a second-half surge to completely erase a 12-point deficit. Wilcox also cut a first-half 13-point deficit down to just eight points going into half time. The mini surge to end the first half was buoyed by senior Haniya Ahmed who drained a three and a pair of free throws to power the Chargers to a 7-2 run going into the second quarter.
Despite seeing their deficit expand back to 12 in the third, four-year senior captain Elise Corwin quickly got hot with the three ball midway through the quarter. Two of Corwin’s three threes in the quarter, combined with a three from freshman Ilaisa Dela Rosa sparked the offensive charge for Wilcox. All told Corwin picked up 10 points during her team’s 15-3 third quarter run to pull tied with Saratoga at 41-41.
While their star guard heated up at the offensive end, Wilcox Head Coach Justin Fujihara was quick to point out that a key part of their run was the ability to get stops at the defensive end.
“We got stops, it was good to finally get some stops,” remarked the coach. “The challenge for us was recognizing where 21 was, she was getting confident and it was important for us to take away her air space. We mentioned that at halftime, when the ball went into the post that’s where we would lose sight of her.”
One thing the Chargers certainly did not lose sight of is the contributions of their four graduating seniors. Not only did Ahmed and Corwin shine offensively, but Sahithi Karumudi got the game’s first points for Wilcox with a three, and Liseth Ruezga Garcia nailed her free throws when she got to the line.
Coach Fujihara spoke at length specifically about Corwin’s impact on his program as a four-year varsity starter and captain.
“We actually talked just a few days ago about what her legacy will be when she moves on from here,” said Fujihara. “The best way we can describe it is ‘leave it better than how you found it’ [and she definitely did that].
“She experienced a lot throughout the course of her high school career playing here, some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows,” the coach continued. “And through each of those she has battled through it. She’s led our group proudly. As a coach that’s all you can ask for, not so much that she does well for you and for the team and teaching the younger players, but she is someone you know will go on and be successful when school is over and basketball is over. It gives you a good, comforting feeling as a coach.”
Despite Corwin leading the way in the third, the Chargers would be unable to sustain the momentum in the fourth quarter. Junior Amanda McDowell came up with a huge block early in the quarter with the team down just two points, but Wilcox would score just five fourth-quarter points after dropping 21 in the third. Saratoga finished off the game winning by a final of 54-46.