It was rough and tumble, no different than it has been all season for the Lynbrook High School Girls basketball team. Another hard-fought win. Another early deficit overcome.
By the time the final buzzer sounded in their 39-35 win over Presentation High School Tuesday night, the Vikings had shown yet again how gritty, how determined, and how good they really were.
With the victory over Presentation, Lynbrook (24-5) secured its spot in the Northern California Division II championship game, where they will get a second chance at Mountain View's St. Francis (23-8), who dealt the Vikings their only playoff loss thus far, 37-27, in the semifinal round of the CCS Open Division.
The Lancers have struggled offensively throughout the season, but get their wins by stepping up their defense, St. Francis Coach Brian Harrigan told the Daily News. This is the team's first-ever tournament appearance.
The opportunity to play St. Francis has Lynbrook junior guard Paige Song eager for redemption. “There’s definitely a lot of feelings of revenge,” she says with a smile. “We want to get that win.”
Head coach Cynthia Ting puts it all in perspective. “I think it is just another game, but I know a lot of them are excited to get another shot at them,” she says. Knowingly, she adds “They don't feel like they went out and played their best last time. This is one they're going to be really pumped up for.”
The comeback against Presentation, led by a barrage of 3-pointers from Song in the second half, was completed by senior forward Jackie Hudepohl’s “and one” basket with less than two minutes to play, putting them up 37-35. Junior center Sara Dyslin would follow with a layup of her own, capping off the Vikings game-deciding 7-0 run before a raucous home crowd.
After the game, Hudepohl, however, gave the credit elsewhere. “We’re just a defensive team. That’s how we win games,” she said. “Our point guard, [sophomore] Dolly Yuan, did a phenomenal job guarding their best player [Courtney Danna]. She frustrated her all night and she was the MVP of this game.”
Coach Ting agreed, saying, “She gets on the floor on defense, gives up her body. No matter how many times she got knocked down or her hand pushed away, she always got right back up.”
Yuan would end up holding the Panthers’ senior guard to just 9 points on the night, well below her season average. Dolly kept her explanation simple, saying, “I was just trying to stop her, not give her any open looks and stick with her.”
This has become something of a theme for Lynbrook on the season. Seemingly every game, a new player steps up into the spotlight. Whether it’s junior guards Song or Annie Cheng knocking down clutch 3-pointers, Hudepohl taking control offensively, or Dyslin dominating the paint, someone seems to step up every game.
For seniors Hudepohl, Emily Fong, Joy Shen, Lakshana Senthilkumar, and Jasmine Chou, this run has been even more special. Coach Ting says, “They've worked so hard and the last couple years we've knocked out some pretty big teams, but people haven't really been there because they didn't think we could do it. It's kind of cool for them to finally get recognition.”
The Vikings next game against St. Francis is at 10 a.m. Saturday in Sacramento. They play the first of six NorCal championship games held at Sleep Train Arena that day. The winner of each game will move on to the CIF State Championships, where they will play the Southern California champion. Those games will also be held at Sleep Train Arena the following Saturday.
Additional reporting by Claudia Cruz.
This article was produced through a collaboration of PatchU and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at San Jose State University. PatchU is a Patch Media initiative to build strong relationships with colleges and universities across the country. The mission of PatchU is to connect students and faculty to opportunities at Patch.
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