Season preview: Girls’ basketball set for big year

Josh Yuen, Author

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The Palo Alto High School girls’ basketball team is seeking to build off of last season’s semifinal exit from the Central Coast Section playoffs with a core of returning players.

Last season, the team finished with a league record of 5-7 and an overall record of 13-13. The girls dealt with a crushing setback midway through the season when they were forced to forfeit their first two games due to a player’s ineligibility, but ultimately worked their way all the way to the CCS semifinals, during which they fell to North Salinas High School.

Sophomore Julie Chandler protects the ball from a Mountain View defender during last season's CCS quarter-final victory on March 4. The Vikings defeated the Spartans 57-54. Photo by Maddy Jones.

Sophomore Julie Chandler protects the ball from a Mountain View defender during last season’s CCS quarterfinal victory on March 4, 2014. The Vikings defeated the Spartans 57-54. Photo by Maddy Jones.

This year’s team includes seven returning players from last year’s roster. Although the team is without any seniors this season, junior guard Maddy Atwater is confident that the team’s strong chemistry will lead to an enjoyable and successful season.

“I’m looking forward to this season in terms of not only success, but [also] actually enjoying it,” Atwater said. “We are going to be a very cohesive team, and we all get along great. Next to that, every single girl on the team genuinely wants to be on the court.”

Sophomore forward Julie Chandler agreed with Atwater on the team’s familiarity with each other and ability to play in unison.

“I think we can accomplish [our] goals this year because we are all used to playing with each other, and we work well together on and off the court,” Chandler said.

Despite a solid foundation of returning players, the team will be without several key players from last season, including graduated seniors Charlotte Alipate and Hope Crockett. Additionally, junior Siggi Bengston and sophomore Jacky Moore, along with sophomore Amelia Schmarzo who now attends Pinewood High School, will also be missed from last year’s roster, according to junior guard Courtney Lovely.

Chandler says she feels that this season allows for an opportunity to take advantage of other schools’ losses of competitive seniors, which gives the Vikings a better chance to win league, having lost only two seniors from last year.

“This season, one of our goals is to win league because some of our competitors have lost key players, so this is our year to take advantage of that,” Chandler said. “Additionally, we want to do well and possibly win CCS.”

The Vikings will take on the Berkeley High School Yellow Jackets tonight at 5 p.m. as part of the Doughtery Valley Tournament to conclude its preseason. The team starts its regular season on the road at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at Alisal High School.