Buoyed by the tremendous work ethic of Katherine Knowles on the offensive boards, the Santa Clara Bruins girls basketball team improved to 6-0 with a 49-31 win over Leland on Monday. Santa Clara got out to an early 14-4 first-quarter lead led by the tenacity of their senior forward.
“Her work ethic is always there” commented Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota on Knowles. “She’s one that we can count on all the time. She’s definitely going to take the game into her hands. She’s our rock, the solid foundation of our team.”
“Yeah, definitely” responded Knowles about taking pride in rebounding. “When I was a freshman, I didn’t have any offense, I’ve always been a defensive player, so rebounding has always been part of my game.”
While Knowles‘ game reminded this writer more of a Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut, it was another former Warrior whom Knowles said she enjoys to watch.
“I like Jeremy Lin because he’s an underdog, I love those types of players.”
The Bruins team features eight returners from last year’s squad, including a pair of twin sisters in Devyn and Taylor Snyder and Yvonne and Yvette Delgado. With that kind of chemistry, the Bruins are hopeful for big things this season. A year ago Santa Clara finished 21-5 overall and 10-2 in league. It is feasible they could even improve upon that record this season.
“Our core group of girls are back and we have had our core since they were freshman” added coach Kiyota. “That’s huge for any basketball team, to have the girls since they were freshman and now they are all seniors, so we have had them for four years. That is a big, big benefit. It’s a really exciting season for us.”
“I’ve been with Devyn and Taylor all through high school” chimed Knowles. “So it’s kind of like we know what’s in each other’s minds at this point.”
When the offense did sputter early in the second quarter against Leland, the defense helped maintain a minimum four point-point cushion from start to finish. A handful of impressive turnovers kept Leland to only two points through the first five-six minutes of the second quarter before both teams rediscovered some offensive touch.
Up by five at halftime, the Bruins didn’t sit back on their heels, but rather finished off the game in impressive fashion. Both the inside game and the perimeter game were gelling, as Knowles’ game inside the paint was complemented nicely with the three-point shooting from Kayleigh Watanabe.
That outside shooting wasn’t as prevalent in the first half until the last thirty seconds when Devyn Snyder nailed a three-pointer to restore a much more comfortable nine-point lead. A buzzer-beating layup from Leland pulled the San Jose squad within seven, but that was as close as they would get before the Bruins’ second-half domination.
“That was a big shot” recalled coach Kiyota on Snyder‘s late first-half three pointer before turning her critical coaching eye toward the other end. “But then we turned around and gave up the layup there at the end.”
Santa Clara next takes on Newark Memorial tonight (Wednesday).