The Wilcox Chargers’ girls basketball team made it a clean sweep of the season series with their rival Santa Clara Bruins on Tuesday. Wilcox never trailed on their home court, withstanding a Bruins’ second-quarter 10-0 run that evened the score at 17, before pulling away late in an eventual 42-35 victory.
“It was a good bounce-back game for us,” remarked Chargers Head Coach Justin Fujihara as the Chargers’ previous game was a 46-27 loss against Palo Alto. “We just wanted to make sure we competed at both ends. The girls did a great job. They’ve done a great job at adjusting in practice and preparing for each different opponent.”
One of the adjustments the Chargers didn’t need to make was to give junior center Ellen Collins any extra help down low in the post. Collins was at a height disadvantage on paper against the Bruins’ Maia Garcia, but according to Chargers’ captain Elise Corwin, Collins more than held her own.
“Ellen is so strong, she’s the one always in the weight room,” noted Corwin. “She benches the most, strongest one on our team for sure, she did great tonight against their center.”
When the Bruins made their 10-0 run, it was the other half of the Chargers’ captaincy duo, junior Anna Neeley, who put an end to the run when she battled for an offensive rebound before getting to the free throw line.
“She’s definitely been the one who seems to do that, to stop the run for the other team,” noted coach Fujihara on Neeley. “She is the one who really makes us go.”
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Chargers held a seven-point lead. In the fourth, though, neither team scored until Neeley and Corwin sandwiched two clutch threes around a Bruins’ layup with about four minutes remaining. That made the score 38-27, seemingly putting the game away.
“I couldn’t have picked two better players to take those shots at the end,” added coach Fujihara. “There is a reason why they are our captains.”
The Bruins looked to be down and out at that point, but they kept fighting to the end as leading scorers Kayleigh Watanabe and Yvonne Delgado each hit three pointers within the last two minutes. Watanabe’s shot cut an 11-point deficit down to eight with about 1:30 remaining. Had the very next three pointer from Delgado gone down, the Bruins could have cut the deficit to five with just under a minute to go. The two star players actually came off the bench in this game, but Bruins’ Assistant Coach John Smith wouldn’t go as far as admitting it was in an attempt to spark the duo.
“It wasn’t about sparking those two, but it was something we talked about beforehand,” noted caoch Smith. “Basically when you are having a season where you’re struggling a little bit, you try to find different answers and different solutions.”
While the decision may have hurt in one fashion, as the Chargers got out to a quick 7-0 lead, both Watanabe and Delgado had arguably their best performances of the season. Watanabe finished with 11 points while Delgado had 14. The duo accounted for 71 percent of the Bruins’ points on the night.
“Yvonne definitely had a good night,” noted Watanabe. “A lot of our shots were hard working shots, we earned all of our shots. We didn’t get many easy buckets tonight.”
The win bumps the Chargers’ league record to 7-3, while the Bruins the see their record fall to 3-7. Santa Clara next takes on Gunn on Friday, Feb. 9. Wilcox has a week off before they also take on Gunn.