A local Amateur Athletic Union girls’ basketball team won a competitive competition in the Bay Area this past weekend.
Athletic Club Santa Cruz beat out teams from Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco to capture the tourney championship held at a local gymnasium in Richmond.
ACSC coach Randy Braga said when they showed up to the gym some of the other teams were astonished they were from Santa Cruz.
“Everybody was asking where are you guys from, we’re like ‘Santa Cruz,’” he said. “When we bring a team from the Santa Cruz area, they’re all a little bit surprised.”
Members on the team included Bella Fury, Emily Raich and Maeve Flynn of St. Francis High; and Hannah Morley and Lucy Lilienthal-Whin of San Lorenzo Valley.
Other local players included Guin Lines of Aptos; Kat Lomeli of Ceiba College Prep; and Sophia Cortes, Sofia Duran, Rhazelle Gonzales, Sophia Tellez, Amya Tellez and Kayla Rayder of Monte Vista Christian.
The team also featured players from San Benito County such as Hailey Garcia, Isabel Alvarez, Madyson Roderick and Anahi Martinez of Anzar.
“Those girls learned the most and improved the most out of any of the girls on our team,” Braga said about the players of Anzar. “There’s that much room for improvement and they put in the work.”
It’s the first tournament ACSC won this year. They went 2-2 at a tournament in Reno and both wins were by five points at the most.
“We see the effort, we see the work they’re putting in and we see the improvement, but it’s tangible to have a little medal or something,” Braga said.
Braga, who led St. Francis High to three-straight Central Coast Section Division V championships, said it was a little odd at first because most of the girls didn’t recognize him.
“You get out of basketball for just a few years, you don’t recognize anybody,” he said.
Braga said it took a while for the players to gel because they came from different schools. However, once they found a rhythm it was hard to stop ACSC.
The press defense came together during the tourney in Reno and the girls began to believe in applying the pressure, Braga said.
Braga mentioned they may lack size in terms of height and athleticism—none of the girls are close to standing 6 feet—but they make it up by playing with plenty of heart.
“We just have to be scrappiest, we have to play harder than them,” Braga said.