The Fremont Firebirds varsity basketball squad finished the early preseason “non-league” portion of the schedule with just a 2-8 record. However, the Firebirds’ young players impressed with their talent level against some strong competition.
Fremont faced three teams in the tough West Catholic Athletic League. They also easily could have won against the De Anza League’s Homestead Mustangs on Dec. 13. The final that night was 42-36, but the game was tied late at 36.
The promise of better things to come was clear in the preseason and that promise has been delivered to start the league campaign. With a 47-31 win over Mountain View on Tuesday, Fremont improved to 7-0, first place in the El Camino Division.
A huge boost has been the return of four key players to the court for Fremont. Senior forward Trinity Lee is back after missing most of the last two seasons with a knee injury that was initially misdiagnosed. She played briefly last season before having to miss the majority of the campaign with a torn ACL.
Junior forward Hayley Johnson was nursing an ankle injury early on this season and the six-foot, two-inch forward is back giving the Firebirds a huge rebounding presence inside.
Junior guard Anusha Chadalavada and senior guard Lauren Chu also missed the non-league portion of the season and are now back with a vengeance.
Chadalavada and Chu led the way against Mountain View, dominating from their backcourt spots. The former was a thief all night defensively, stealing Spartan passes left and right for easy buckets the other way. She also drained multiple threes, including one from a good five feet behind the arc that had Head Coach Miguel Castillo yelling, “no, no, no,” as the ball was floating through the air.
“He would have just given me a disappointed stare,” chuckled Chadalavada had she missed that deep three. “But I kind of felt that it was going in because I was practicing a lot of my shooting during practice, practice makes perfect and I was confident and held my hand up.”
While no coach will ever admit to their team playing perfectly, coach Castillo admits his team now has all the ingredients that make a strong basketball team, they just have to put it all together.
“The pieces are there, it’s a matter of us putting it together in practice, really understanding what team defense is, which we don’t yet,” chimed the Firebirds’ Head Honcho. “We pressure a lot, and take a lot of chances, but against good teams, you’re not going to be able to do that. But yes, the pieces are there so we just have to work at it.”
Fremont arguably has a 10-deep rotation with solid players. Along with the aforementioned four returning players making an impact, they already had Sophie Chang, Mackenzie Wong, Jiyah Caban, Ciarra O’Leary, Luciana Oritz and Vivian Lee playing impressive minutes.
Now whole again, the Firebirds will look to remain undefeated when they take on Santa Clara on Jan. 26.