Huge win for girls’ varsity basketball at CCS quarterfinals

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Arohi Bhattacharya and Emily Yun

Following a 63-35 victory against Carlmont High School at the Central Coast Section Division I quarterfinals Tuesday, the Palo Alto High School girls’ varsity basketball team is going up against Los Gatos High School at 7 p.m. tonight at Los Gatos High School.

The team was seeded first in the top division of their league to advance to CCS quarterfinals. According to freshman shooting guard Kaella Peters, this game was the most crucial game of their season so far.

“It’s one game elimination, so if we didn’t win, our season would be over, and that gave us the motivation to fight hard,” Peters said.

The Vikings started off the game with a bang, with numerous 3-pointers made by Peters and junior forward Elif Turgut. With the thrilling offensive and defensive plays, the teams came to a close end of the first quarter, with the Vikings leading by a mere couple of points.

Sophomore forward Thea Enache prepares to make a shot during the neck to neck first quarter of the game. After pulling ahead during the second quarter, Enache said the team was optimistic about the rest of the game. “I think our team has what it takes to go far this season,” Enache said. Photo: Arohi Bhattacharya

According to Head Coach Scott Peters, the girls’ efforts to work cohesively on the court during the first quarter ignited their passion for the rest of the game. 

“They’re a great group of girls, and I think with any relationship you have to keep working at it,” Peters said. “We wanted to have good pace and good defense, and I think the girls are doing a good job at that. For [the next game], we’re just going to go out and play with confidence.”

The second quarter began with strong defense from the Vikings. While junior shooting guard Carly Martin consistently got points from rebounds and layups, the lead was pushed back and forth between the teams. The Vikings’ ball control was held offensively by sophomore forward Thea Enache and freshman shooting guard Delaney Ball, helping them end the half favorably, 30-25.

Freshman forward Itzel Torres made multiple baskets that kept the Vikings on top of the scoreboard. However, Torres said it was not only her individual success that factored into the Vikings pulling ahead, but mainly the teamwork the girls had on the court.

“We were very bonded during the game,” Torres said. “Even from the beginning, we might’ve been having some tough times, but I thought we all pushed each other well.”

The second half of the game was the start of the Vikings’ strong route to success. The third quarter brought incredible offense from back-to-back 3 pointers and layups from Turgut, Peters, and Martin, earning them nine points by the middle of the third quarter. They also maintained powerful defense against the Scots with interceptions and rebounds from Ball, Enache, and Torres. Their defense put a hold on the baskets for the Scots, giving them a large edge at the end of the third quarter, 50-25.

The Vikings rallied their players to work together in maintaining a heavy lead in the fourth quarter. Though the game progressively got more physically aggressive with the personal fouls for players on both teams building, the confidence grew within the Vikings. They secured basket after basket and matched their efforts on their side of the court by blocking many shots and three-pointer attempts from the Scots. With increasing offensive plays towards the end of the game, the Vikings protected their win 63-35 by the end of the fourth quarter.

The players expressed their enthusiasm for moving onto another round in CCS after a great win.

“I’m really excited,” Martin said. “We’re a young team, so moving onto semifinals in the first two years is great and I think we will do well.”

According to Turgut, the team collectively agreed that no matter where the end of their CCS track was, their journey would be the Vikings’ greatest accomplishment.

“We’re going to play our hearts out,” Turgut said. “We are going to go as hard as we can and we’ll see how far it takes us.”