The Santa Clara Bruins varsity basketball squad took down rival Wilcox with relative ease on Jan. 17. Despite playing in hostile territory, the Bruins had plenty of support in the stands inside the Wilcox gym and their players rewarded the support with plenty to cheer about. When the final horn blew, the Bruins had nearly doubled up their rival Chargers on the scoreboard, taking home a 67-34 win.
“I thought we started off a little sluggish, but then we definitely picked it up,” remarked Bruins Head Coach Deedee Kiyota. “We also ended the second quarter a bit sloppy, told them at halftime we got sloppy there at the end and that we needed to pick it up on defense.”
Pick it up they did, as the Bruins put an immediate end to any further Wilcox comeback. The Chargers had finished off the second quarter on a 7-0 run to pull back within 14 at 35-21, but in a flash to start the third, the Bruins were back up by over 20.
“We executed well for sure,” chimed senior guard Nina Llamas on the win. “Usually with [rivalry games] we get nervous and don’t start out well, but I thought we were confident the whole game. Our shots were falling and we were making the right passes. This was one of our best games.”
Llamas, along with Mia Talalele, Kendall Yee and Charm Azul are the Bruins’ core four players who have shined on varsity for multiple seasons now. It’s not a surprise that the team is off to an impressive start at 12-4 overall and 3-1 in league. However, every talented team has facets of their game to work on. Two key areas where the Bruins have noticeably gotten better this season are at the free throw line and with that fifth starting spot on the floor.
As most players who regularly play the five position do, Talalele has struggled in the past from the free throw line. This season, though, the junior has put in the work and, on Wednesday night, drained her free throws with relative ease as if she were a natural shooting guard. Given her propensity to get fouled, significantly increasing her free throw percentage will go a long way for the Bruins to make a deep playoff run.
“She always knocks down her free throws at practice,” added Llamas on Talalele’s work to get better at the line. “She knows how important they are to the team’s success, so she’s been putting in the work.”
When Talalele is double-teamed in the paint, her closest outlet pass has often been Vanessa Delgado. The senior forward has been much more consistent scoring in the paint early on this season.
“The last couple games, she’s definitely stepped up,” praised Kiyota on Delgado. “She’s been excellent finishing at the rim.”
“I love playing with her. She always gives 100%. We will be down by whatever, 40 points and she’s still trying to get steals, running up and down the courts,” chimed senior forward Claire Sugrue. “I love playing with her.”
Sugrue finished second on the Chargers behind Medida in scoring against the Bruins.