Scotts Valley High girls basketball head coach Stu Hurvitz returned to the program this season after taking a two year break from roaming the sidelines.
Hurvitz—who was at the helm from 2017-20—isn’t a stranger to the team, yet he’s still a brand new coach to both returning and first year players.
Up to this point, his biggest challenge has been figuring out their strengths and weaknesses, while also assembling the best group possible.
“I think that’s what the preseason is for. We sort of build so that when we get to league, we are clicking more,” Hurvitz said.
Hurvitz will turn to standout junior guard Abigail Shi, who continuously tries to build team chemistry with a group made up of some returners and mostly new players,
“Practice is super important for us to keep our team chemistry together, hold each other accountable,” Shi said. “We haven’t all played together before, at all. We have to communicate more, team bonding as much as we can to be ready.”
Scotts Valley’s roster also saw a huge shift in size, going from having taller players to a team full of shorter guards.
One player that Shi is used to playing with is sophomore guard Brooklyn Williams, who made a huge splash as one of the underclassmen on the Falcons last year.
“I know where she is at all times,” Shi said. “But new players, we have to get used to each other and see where we are.”
As for Williams, her main goal is to win. She believes the Falcons have a good amount of players who are really scrappy that play like dogs.
“I think it’s gonna click and I think we’re gonna make a run,” Williams said.
Hurvitz said Shi has definitely been the leader for the Falcons and pretty much sets the tone for her teammates.
Shi and Williams worked on their game during the summer, did workouts, attended open gyms and just flat out trained.
“They’re very smart about the game and they’re calling me to get into the gym,” Hurvitz said.
It definitely bodes well for the Falcons these next two seasons because a core of the team will return, including a pair of promising freshmen in both Hailey and Hanna Shehorn, and sophomore Ameilia Vye.
“It gives us a chance to build and not start from zero,” Hurvitz said.
Hurvitz took over a program that finished 7-17 overall and went 5-5 in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play in 2022-23.
The Falcons lost a handful of players due to graduation including Elana McGrew, Hailey McKinney, Alyssa Rebbert, Audrey Watson and Amy Weiss, who helped last year’s squad reach the Central Coast Section Division IV playoffs.
The Falcons currently own a 3-6 overall record with wins against Gilroy, Marina and Gunn high schools.
Scotts Valley got off to a rocky start by losing three straight, including a 57-17 loss to Hollister High—the defending Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division co-champion—in the Watsonville Wildcatz Invitational on Nov. 30.
Williams said playing elite teams such as the Haybalers is a good test for them. Plus, it shows the Falcons where they stand going into the upcoming league season.
“I think half of us had a lot of confidence and half of us were questioning it a little bit,” Williams said. “It shows us that we kind of need to step it up now. Take better shots, better passes and just play smarter.”
Williams and Shi, along with sophomores Amaya Guerra and Samantha Rebbert compete for the same AAU basketball team. The Falcons’ quartet plays year round and Williams thinks it’ll work out quite well as the season progresses.
“We’ve been playing with each other for a while now and it helps us because we don’t have to completely start over. It’s just implementing more players into our rotation,” Williams said.
However, one thing the seasoned players have to remember is slowing down the tempo, Williams said.
The AAU team she plays on runs at a very fast pace, and transitioning that system into a different team could have its setbacks.
Williams said they might not have a lot of size, but having junior Claire Skinner and sophomore Bella Williams, a transfer from Monte Vista Christian, definitely helps.
Scotts Valley will need all the help it can get with teams such as Aptos, Soquel and reigning league champion Santa Cruz will all compete for the coveted SCCAL title.
Shi said she doesn’t mind competing in a challenging league because having difficult competition will only help Scotts Valley in the long run.
“It pushes us for sure,” Shi said. “It’s gonna make us get a lot better. And we have a young team, so I think we’re going to be pretty good.”