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February 5, 2023

Cougars slowly getting back to full speed | Girls basketball

SLV players were faced with challenges during rainstorms

It’s been a difficult time for San Lorenzo Valley High senior Lucy Lilienthal-Wynn, who had two of her basketball games postponed in the span of a week.

That’s not even including the fact that she was living out of a hotel with her family along with the rest of her neighborhood after they were evacuated due to the aftermath of the rainstorm.

Since then, Lilienthal-Wynn and her Cougars teammates found it hard to hype themselves up for a contest. Especially if the game was in danger of being postponed the same day.

“It’s definitely been hard with school and everything, too,” Lilienthal-Wynn said. “We’re making it work.”

SLV coach Adam Johnson said the difficult task is trying to get the players back into playing mode after missing 10 days of either practice or games.

“Ten days may not seem like a long time, but that’s an eternity for a team when you’re barely on the court, trying to get a rhythm going again,” he said. “Obviously safety first, we want to make sure the players and students are safe. But it’s challenging.”

Johnson was constantly talking to the players and staying positive. They focused on the bigger things, such as what the ultimate goals are and taking it one game at a time.

“Not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves,” he said. “Slow and steady is the motto, really.”

SLV slowly returned to full speed following a 54-48 win over Aptos High in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League action Jan. 13. It took the Cougars a while to get the legs churning, especially after having just one practice under their belts.

“It definitely hit me because I was on the court in the first quarter, I was gassed,” Lilienthal-Wynn said. “We hadn’t really played full court in a week and a half. Some fatigue on the team’s part.”

Lilienthal-Wynn finished with 14 points for the Cougars in what was an important win because it determined where they sat within the league. She thought they could’ve done a lot better, but they fell apart and even lost a big lead in the second quarter.

“We still pulled through in the end,” Lilienthal-Wynn said. “That’s what matters, is that we can put points up on the board and draw fouls. But there’s definitely some stuff that we can work on.”

Johnson would’ve liked a more decisive victory; however, it did show the mark of a good team that bends, yet doesn’t break. The Cougars have had those moments a few times this year, including close wins against Mercy of Burlingame and Watsonville.

“We held on and persevered, and that’s the best part about playing those challenging moments,” he said. “It’s how your team reacts.”

Amelia Sizemore finished tied with a game-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and fellow teammates Hannah Morley contributed 10 points and Bella Reynolds had seven for SLV.

Sizemore’s biggest shot came late in the fourth quarter with SLV leading by just three points, 45-42. She cut across the court to get open and banked in a 3-pointer that gave them a six-point cushion at that point.

Lilienthal-Wynn said the big shot was a momentum changer and she didn’t expect less from who she believes is the best spot-up shooter on the team.

“You want her in there when it’s a close game,” Lilienthal-Wynn said. “She can hit shots when it counts.”

The Cougars got off to a hot start by winning their first eight games before losing back-to-back games to Monte Vista Christian and Presentation of San Jose in mid december.

They were runner-up to Crystal Springs at St. Francis High’s Lady Shark Shootout, finishing with a 2-1 overall record at the tournament.

SLV began SCCAL play with a crushing 53-13 win over Harbor High in the teams’ league opener Jan. 3.

Their home game against Santa Cruz on Jan. 6 was postponed due to power outages, and a meeting at Scotts Valley was also delayed because of the rainstorm.  

The Cougars practiced in Scotts Valley, including at Scotts Valley High School. Lilienthal-Wynn said the biggest challenge for them is getting enough reps for players that don’t have access to the gym.

She mentioned that repetition and working on conditioning is a priority, especially with such a young group. 

SLV (12-4, 3-1) managed to win three straight to begin SCCAL play before dropping their first league game in a 57-44 loss to Soquel High (9-7, 4-1). 

Johnson said there was a friendly reminder following their win against Aptos that the Cougars still have a lot of work to do. 

“We want to take our game to the next level, we want to ultimately succeed and be where we want to be,” he said. “We can’t get complacent and just assume that based on records what an outcome might be.”

SLV will finish its five-game road trip with games against Harbor on Friday and Santa Cruz on Jan. 24. Both games are slated to tip off at 6pm.

Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.

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