The win improved the Falcons to 9-0 in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play and upped their overall record to 18-3 with the team’s only losses coming to highly-ranked opponents in preseason action.
Senior Angela Silver led the way with a season-high 27 points while teammates Nadene Hart, a senior, and Charlie Boyle, a junior, chipped in 17 apiece.
“It was a great effort by everybody on the team,” said Head Coach Jim Hart. “We’ve got a strong bench. It’s a solid group 1 through 11.”
However, it was the Falcons defense that led to another high scoring effort and the team’s tenth consecutive victory.
According to statistics kept by the team, the Falcons had 32 steals on the night. Hart had 11, followed by seven from point guard Nikiya Bechtel, four each from Silver and Boyle and three from junior guard Mandy Silver.
The Falcons were in a full court press from the opening tip, going up 6-0 in the first two minutes without allowing Santa Cruz even to take a single shot. By the end of the first quarter, the Falcons were out to a 24-7 advantage aided by the press.
Falcon guards Mandy Silver and Bechtel, along with Hart, a forward, trapped the ball all over the court and jumped into passing lanes, forcing errant passes, often grabbed by Hart, or grabbing steals.
Many of the steals resulted in layups for Angela Silver who streaked toward the bucket over and over again.
The full court press is a strategy the team has utilized all season.
“The defense is leading to so much offense,” said Jim Hart.
The Falcons’ press employed a frenetic pace that caused the Santa Cruz ball handlers to attempt wild passes or to dribble through multiple defenders simply to cross half court.
“It’s something we like so much, we get mad when coach takes it off,” said Angela Silver. “We love running it. It keeps us pumped up and we feed off of it.”
The full court press has led to impressive offensive outputs for the Falcons, who have averaged 76.6 points per game this season, including 82.4 pointer per game during the SCCAL schedule that began January 8. The Falcons have scored more than 90 points four times in the past nine games, including their highest scoring game, a 107-13 victory over SLV on January 28.
The Falcons have employed the full court press in every game they have played this season.
“It takes a lot of energy to run that press,” Jim Hart said. “They have worked hard and we can run that press for four quarters.”
The advantage, he says, usually comes at the end of games. The first several quarters are used to wear the other team down, while Scotts Valley continues to attack throughout the entire game. It takes a high level of fitness to continually press.
“We are continually working on conditioning,” Hart said.
Angela Silver called the press a way for the Falcons to compete against teams that can be loaded with Division I talent.
“It’s an equalizer because we wear them down,” she said.
The Falcons had close losses to Pinewood High School, the 17th ranked team in the state, and Monterey Trail High School which is undefeated in its league. They also suffered a 17-point loss to St. Ignatius High School, which is ranked 12th in the state.
Along with the press, the Falcons often attack after made baskets by the opposition. Bechtel has shown an adeptness making long over-the-top passes to Angela Silver and Nadene Hart, while all the guards look for Boyle and Hart in the low and mid-post. Boyle at 6-feet and Hart at 6-1 form a physically imposing front line who snatch most rebounds on both ends of the court and can beat their defenders in 1-on-1 situations.
This season, Jim Hart has been able to develop the bench to contribute in the press and on the offensive end.
Against Santa Cruz, junior Sadie Allen made several strong defensive plays, while sophomore Grace Giguier came off the bench to knock down back-to-back three pointers in the third quarter.
Angela Silver said the team has high hopes once the postseason starts.
“If we get into CCS, we want to win CCS,” she said. “In NorCal, we want to go as far as we can. Maybe we can win NorCal. That would be cool.”
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