Girls’ hoopsters prepare for upcoming season

Sam Lee, Author

Senior Alexis Harris works the post against senior Courtney Lovely during the team's preseason practice. Photo by Sam Lee.
Senior Alexis Harris works the post against senior Courtney Lovely during the team’s preseason practice. Photo by Sam Lee.

The Palo Alto High School girls’ basketball team looks to redeem itself in the upcoming season on Dec. 5 from its early playoff exit in the first round of the CIF State Girls Basketball Championships last March.

“Oakland beat us up both physically and mentally,” senior center Alexis Harris said. “It was a stupid loss, but we can definitely bounce back.”

The Vikings also did not have any seniors from last year, and because no new players were selected for the Varsity team during tryouts, the roster will remain the same. The team, made up of a majority of upperclassmen, is more experienced with three seniors – Harris, Courtney Lovely and Maddy Atwater – and five juniors.

The Vikings will be playing at Gunn High School for their home games throughout the season due to construction of the Paly Gym.

Going into the 2015-16 season as a No. 2 seed, an undefeated record in the De Anza league and No. 6 seed in the Central Coast Section, the Vikings are confident for a strong season, according to senior power forward Lovely.

“I expect us to finish first in league because we did last year,” Lovely said. “We are looking to compete for the [CCS] title.”

Head Coach Scott Peters has the same mindset.

“Expectations are usually the same every year,” Peters said. “We want to win league, compete for CCS Sectionals and go to the Northern California Finals. These are all tangible goals, and we can achieve them by improving during practice.”

Nevertheless, the team realizes the effort it needs to exert in order to reach this goal.

Carrying out plays is a significant part of the game the team strives to improve in, according to Peters.

“We just need to execute,” Peters said. “The girls are great at shooting the ball, but we just have to execute a little better.”

Junior point guard Lauren Koyama and sophomore point guard Carly Leong also remarked on what aspects of the game the team wishes to enhance.

“We are focusing mainly on defense and transition, and making sure we work as a unit,” Koyama said.

Leong also mentioned working on defense, as well as focusing on conditioning.

“As a team, improving on defense is our main goal,” Leong said. “We have also been working on closing out and getting into better shape.”

The Vikings will play their first game at 6 p.m. at Menlo-Atherton High School.

The season opener is going to be a redemption game for the girls, according to Leong.

“I hope we beat them because we lost to them last year,” Leong said.