Other than the Girls Water Polo program, all of the other CHS winter sports teams are constantly hitting the re-fresh button on their computer to get the latest Power Rankings. Chief among them are the Girls Basketball team members and fans, as the Islanders actually improved in the rankings last week and moved into a tie for sixth place in the Division III rankings. With 16 teams qualifying for the post season, that means the Islanders have a strong leg up on hosting a first round home playoff game, especially if they win their final two regular season games this week.
The upward two-spot shift came about because Coronado (13-9 overall, 7-3 in the Central League) defeated Christian 46-34 on the road Tuesday and then knocked off Crawford at home 34-22. But as has been the case all season, neither result was easily accomplished. Head Coach Toler Goodwin said, “We were an apathetic group in the first half at Christian. We didn’t have a lot of continuity, we were slow-footed and we took bad shots. We trailed 16-15 at the half because we had a lot of ‘just throw the ball at the basket’ shooting. We were 7-32 from the field and we didn’t attempt any free throws. Our approach overall was rather nonchalant.”
With the coming of the second half the Islanders’ pace picked up considerably according to Goodwin. “We played with a lot more energy defensively. They scored six points in the third quarter and we shut them down for nine consecutive minutes of the game. We went from five points down to 15 points up. They scored a couple of baskets late in the game to make the final 46-34. We had little contributions from everyone.”
Scoring in the game came from Luisa Valles with four points; Ashtyn Hurrell with 13; Katie Hearther added 10; Amelia Christie had eight points; Kyla Orth chipped in with six; while Ellie Nixon and Taylor Kastlunger scored three points each. Jordyn Kastlunger contributed eight rebounds and three blocked shots, Nixon had seven rebounds and Hurrell hauled in eight caroms.
Due to the four-day weekend, the Islanders played at home Thursday evening when they hosted Crawford in what may have been the most physical high school girls basketball game I have ever seen; and I’ve seen a couple hundred in person. On one memorable play, a Colt defender literally launched herself at Luisa Valles, and knocked her down and no foul was called. In a dramatic understatement, the officials for that game should have been ashamed to accept their game fee.
“Our first game against Crawford was physical too,” recounted Goodwin. “And we didn’t meet the challenge. You want your kids to play hard and be fair. My simple message afterwards was, ‘You kept your cool and that wasn’t easy.’ We also made too many mistakes and the ball was flying around the gym too much.”
Despite the physical play, the Islanders held a 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and stretched their lead out to 20-10 at the half and 28-13 at the end of three quarters. The final score was 34-22. We don’t typically mention opposing players in “Nado Natterings,” but Crawford junior forward Edith Okello deserves a mention as she scored 18 of her team’s 22 points. Okello was outscored by the collective effort of Hurrell with 12 points; Christie with eight; four points each came from Jordyn Kastlunger and Hearther; and two points each were chipped in by Nixon, Orth and Valles.
As an added bonus, Valles played well on both ends of the court as Goodwin noted, “Defensively Luisa is doing a really good job for us and she is much more comfortable being out there. She’s not overwhelmed and she is getting the feeling of belonging and knowing where she can contribute. Defensively she gives us more ball coverage and she likes to ride her player like in lacrosse. The defensive body positioning in basketball and lacrosse are similar.”
In closing, Goodwin said of the Power Rankings, “If we win out we should stay in that range of No. 6.” Coronado’s potential first round Division III Playoff opponent could come from a group which includes Castle Park, Tri-City Christian, Steele Canyon and Hoover, depending on the results of the Power Rankings.
This week the Islanders celebrate Senior Night Tuesday at home at 5 p.m. against Madison. Their final regular season game will be Friday night at Clairemont at 6 p.m., as the first game of a Girls/Boys doubleheader.