Basketball: Girls charge through injuries as players are forced to learn new positions

January 31, 2019 — by Allison Hartley

In the fourth quarter of the game against Los Gatos on Jan. 15, sophomore point guard Iris Lee raced down the lane, passing the ball out to sophomore guard Kaitlyn Yu on the wing for a fast transition play and a shot. Lee was in the position of playing key minutes and making important contributions, especially considering that many of the Falcons’ projected starters have been out recuperating from injuries, with some only recently returning.

Among the injured have been two starting sophomores: point guard Jane Loo (calf) and Yu (achilles heel and calf injury). Also, out have been starting junior guard Anika Prasad with a hand and wrist injury, and senior Kirstin Kruka due to recent appendix complications.

Loo expects to be back for the game against Santa Clara on Feb. 1. Yu returned for the Jan. 11 game against Santa Clara. Prasad returned on Jan. 15, but Kruka is not likely to recover by the end of the season.

The team beat Los Gatos 47-37 on Jan. 15, but lost to Palo Alto 51-47 on Jan. 23 and against Wilcox 52-39 on Jan. 25. The Falcons also lost at home to Cupertino 62-55 in overtime on Jan. 28.  Cupertino tied the game with a 3-pointer at the end of regulation, making the loss especially crushing. The team will play Los Gatos on Feb. 5 and Mountain View on Feb. 8 for the second time.

Although the team lost by four point loss against Palo Alto, the team played a high-caliber game against the league’s top team, seeing success especially with rebounding and achieving true moral victory.

As of Jan. 27, their season record is 11-8, with a league record of 2-5 and preseason record 9-3.

“We had some rough games [without key players], but overall it made our team stronger because some players who aren’t used to playing as much stepped up,” sophomore center Berry Bailey said. “Some players play a lot more than others, and the players that don’t play as much have their time to shine.”

Lee, who continues to suffer from shoulder pain and multiple jammed fingers, replaced star player Loo as starting point guard after the second game of the preseason.

“In the beginning, I felt a lot of pressure playing as the starting point guard, but now it’s just playing basketball,” Lee said.

Lee added that bench players’ previous experiences on the court will help the team’s depth; the disruption in the starting lineup has given starters the chance to help their teammates improve by observing from the bench and by giving comments that they otherwise would not have noticed from the floor.

“I can give feedback on how to play help-defense whereas when I'm on the floor, I'm focused on my own man and I would never be able to help my teammates,” Loo said. “Just from sitting out I've been able to help everyone on the team more.”

Despite the injury issues, the team remains optimistic about prospects for the rest of the season and CCS.

“It would be helpful if all of our team healed, but midway through the season we have adapted and gotten a feel for how we play with each other,” Bailey said. “It’ll have an impact on the score, but it won’t be the difference between winning or losing a game.”

The team continues to promote wellness by encouraging using foam rollers, stretching and scheduling weekly workouts in the weight room. Following particularly difficult games such as the one against Los Gatos, coach Danny Wallace takes the team through a light practice, giving time for muscles to heal, before practicing hard to prepare for the next game.

“We know who we’re up against,” Bailey said. “We have to expect the best out of all of the teams that we play because they're the best of the best, and we need to go in thinking like it’s the CCS championship game.”