Santa Clara High’s girls basketball team is just three games away from potentially finishing an historic regular season. On Friday night the Bruins extended their perfect record to 21-0 with a 45-17 thrashing of the Lynbrook Vikings. Even with one of their starters coming off the bench due to being out sick earlier in the week, Santa Clara didn’t miss a beat as they cruised to a 37-11 advantage through three quarters. While the Bruins’ reserves played most of the fourth quarter, three bench players in particular stood out for Santa Clara throughout the game. Yvette Delgado filled in admirably as a starter in place of her sister Yvonne, and both Dejah Swanson and Bonnie Liu provided solid minutes in their limited roles. Liu hit her only three-point attempt with a perfect swish and Swanson was phenomenal on the defensive boards.
“I thought everybody, all ten of them gave us good minutes,” chimed Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota. “Everybody stepped up tonight.”
“Dejah is just out there making sure she can get every rebound she can, her effort is unmatched,” added sophomore starter Kayleigh Watanabe. “Everyone works just as hard as everyone else in practice, no matter how many minutes each of us get.”
Wise beyond her years, Watanabe displays amazing anticipation on the court, reading plays, breaking open and getting to her spots before opponents are able to react. On a team with three solid senior starters, it is Watanabe who is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.8 points-per game. She’s tough to defend as she banks home a ton of fast-break points and is a deadly three-point shooter to boot.
“She sees the game at a different level,” commented coach Kiyota on her star sophomore. “She’s a student of the game. When she watches other games she’s not just a spectator, she breaks it down. She’ll see what our opponent is doing. If we go scout a game, she’ll scout the game with me. She dissects the game at a different level.”
Along with Watanabe, the usual suspects delivered their typical impressive performances in this rematch with Lynbrook. Santa Clara beat the Vikings earlier in the season at home 42-31. This time around the game was never close as the aforementioned trio of senior starters Katherine Knowles and Devyn and Taylor Snyder made certain the game was decided by halftime with a 26-6 score after two quarters.
“We weren’t going to be as surprised as we were the first time we played Lynbrook,” remarked Watanabe. “We were getting out on their shooters better and we were pushing the ball and working our plays better.”
With this latest win, the pressure of an undefeated season will only continue to grow as the season draws to a close. Coach Kiyota has done a good job keeping her team focused and not thinking about being undefeated, but it’s not as easy as it was earlier in the season.
“It’s really hard not to think about it,” admitted Watanabe while trying to hold back a smile. “From the beginning of the season it was just a goal [to win every game], but now it’s right there for us to grab. We just have to keep playing like we’re playing and can’t get too cocky.”
As the season goes along, are the girls getting more attention from family and friends about going undefeated?
“At school more people are talking about it,” responded Coach Kiyota, who serves as one of Santa Clara’s Athletic Directors. “They made an announcement, and at the Cupertino game the stands were pretty full which is not as normal for a girls basketball game. There were a lot of people there.”
The Bruins’ three remaining opponents are teams Santa Clara has already beat by comfortable margins of 14, 19 and 23 points. The league season finale is Feb. 17th on their home court against Monta Vista.