Girls’ varsity basketball takes charge throughout, beats Petaluma to secure first victory

Stella Bennett

Announcing the starting five players, freshman Kitty White gets applauded by her teammates.

On Nov. 19, the girls’ varsity basketball team won their first game against Petaluma High School with a final score of 48-27. The game was filled with an intense lead all four quarters, with senior Ingrid Houtkooper totaling the most points with 17. Additionally, the team came out aggressive and eager for the ball, ending with 13 fouls in the second half. Following the loss of five graduating seniors, the team is continuing to adjust, creating big shoes to fill. Emma Tanaka, a senior and co-captain of the team, believes their team has not been set back due to the missing players, and she is confident that this game is the first of many wins. 

“I think we are recovering pretty well considering that only half our team is returners, but the younger kids that are coming in are super talented and add a lot to the team,” Tanaka said. 

Part of this win could be attributed to their extensive preseason and commitment to practicing together all summer. In hope of creating a “players-first” program, head coach Zach Borello created a system in which the upperclassmen determined their summer schedule.

Jumping up to grab the missed shot, senior Bella Hann successfully catches the rebound.

“I gave some of the ownership to the seniors of how daunting of a preseason we want. ‘Do we want it to be competitive? Do we want it to be challenging?’” Borello said. “It has been very competitive and will give us confidence moving into the league [games].”

Their preseason also allowed the team to bond and get to know each other on and off the court. 

“I think this team might be as close as any team I have ever coached. It starts with the seniors and their leadership welcoming everyone in. There are no egos, no bad apples … there is a lot of ‘we’ mentality,” Borello said. “I don’t think this team could get any closer as far as camaraderie, team bonding, getting along with each other and supporting each other. It is a unique group and that will make us special this year.”

Freshman Kitty White supports the notion that the seniors played a large role in creating a welcoming environment for new players.

“I feel good [as a freshman on the team]. We have a really solid team so I look forward to the season. We have a deep bench so anyone could sub [out] for anyone, and we will still be a really good team out on the court,” White said. 

Reflecting on this first game, Tanaka notices strengths and weaknesses that the team must focus on to stay competitive this year. 

“[Our main objective] is to win the [Marin County Athletic League],” Tanaka said.”

“Our team chemistry is amazing and everyone on our team is extremely hard working, persistent and confident in their abilities. I think that is what will make us a strong basketball team,” Tanaka said. “[One of our weaknesses] is players establishing themselves on the court. We practice really well but we need to work on transferring [our skills] to the game but it’s only Nov. 19, so we still have time.”

With a long way to go in the season, Borello considers what he is most excited about. 

“[This is my] second year of coaching. I am more familiar with the girls, more familiar with the program and I am more familiar with the philosophies we want to embed in our culture. The girls know me better so they understand what my expectations are and what our pillars of success are,” Borello said. “One of the big things that has been so exciting this year is the leadership role of the seniors with the team … so I am most excited for them.”

Preparing to shoot a free throw, Kitty White bounces the ball and begins her shooting routine.

With the first win in the books, Tanaka has set a goal for the remainder of the season. 

“[Our main objective] is to win the [Marin County Athletic League],” Tanaka said. “Our biggest competitor would be Marin Catholic [since] they have a pretty good team, but I know they see us as equal competition so I’m excited for that game.”

Come watch the girls’ basketball team continue to dominate their preseason at the next home game against Analy High School on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.