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GIRLS BASKETBALL – Shorthanded Whitney suffers worst loss, lowest point total of season to Division 1 team

January 30, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

GARDEN GROVE-It the Whitney High girls basketball team is to go far in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2A playoffs, the players on the bench must step up when key starters are out of action. When the Wildcats visited Orangewood Academy last Saturday night, senior Kylie Wang, the team’s leading scorer, was not suited up for a third consecutive game as she is nursing a right ankle sprain from the Jan. 19 game against Pioneer High.

Without her and junior Mady Macaraeg, another starter, the Wildcats (18-8 overall) were blown off the court 69-32. It was the worst loss of the season for Whitney, which also posted its lowest point total. Whitney previously had four losses of six points or fewer, one by 12 points, one by 15 and one by 21. However, two of those double-digit losses came to out of state teams during the NIKE Tournament of Champions.

In the first quarter, Whitney was embroiled in a good battle with the Spartans, which is ranked 10th in Division 1. There were four ties, four lead changes and neither team led by more than three points. But with the score knotted up at 11-11, Orangewood Academy went on an 11-0 run and never looked back. By halftime, the ‘Cats found themselves down 20 and searching for someone to step up in the absence of the two starters.

“In the first quarter, you saw a team that was focused, locked in and ready to play,” said Whitney head coach Myron Jacobs. “I think halfway through the second quarter, you saw a team that mentally broke down because they were getting frustrated with not getting the calls that they wanted in the key with the three seconds and the hand checking.”

Whitney was six of 18 from the field in the half with junior Haylie Wang scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds. But Whitney also turned the ball over too many times and the Spartans took advantage with the points in transition. And when they didn’t score in transition, it was the offensive rebounds and second chance points that did the Wildcats in.

“A team can get exposed every night they lose,” said Jacobs. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a game like this; it doesn’t matter if it’s a playoff game, you get exposed. That’s the whole point of coaching. I thought this team that we played was definitely not as good as we thought they were and what we saw on film. I thought we beat ourselves. We had a total of 12 turnovers in the first quarter; that’s what I counted.

“When you shoot below 12 percent from the three-point line, and you have 27 turnovers in a game and you get outrebounded…I’m pretty sure they killed us on the second chance points, that’s what I saw,” he continued.

Whitney’s second quarter points came 13 seconds in, at the 3:47 mark and with 2:37 remaining in the half. It would get three baskets in the third quarter-a three-pointer from freshman Alyssa So to make it 42-18, a two-pointer from junior Rachel Moyher with 3:40 left and one from freshman Cheyanne Cheung with 2:55 left in the stanza. After that, the Spartans went on a 13-0 run to lead 57-22 early in the fourth quarter.

“If you play a Kylie and a Mady in the first quarter, along with the original starters, now you’re looking at another halftime score,” said Jacobs.

Wang led the Wildcats with 14 points, 10 boards and three assists while So added 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. Junior Allie Yamaguchi pitched in with five rebounds, but the rest of the team combined to shoot four of 14 from the field and get nine rebounds, two steals and an assist.

“Again, you’re looking at a very young Whitney team that you saw today,” said Jacobs. “You saw the girls who were actually moved up who are young and raw still learning. Hopefully, we’ll get there.”

Whitney, which lost its only two games against Division 1 teams, went 2-0 against Division 2AA teams and has split its four games against Division 2A teams, hosts Oxford Academy on Tuesday before ending the regular season on Thursday at home against Cerritos High. Whitney needs to beat Cerritos to claim a share of the 605 League title as the Dons defeated the Wildcats 64-60 on Jan. 17. Jacobs said he didn’t know if Kylie Wang would be ready to play that game, but indicated there might be some changes on the horizon.

“You’re going to see a whole new team,” said Jacobs. “We’re going to move kids down and we’re probably only going to have seven or six kids. At this point in the season, it’s critical. It’s about you have to have to play with heart and come out and play. We’re teaching the things that we’re teaching for a reason, and then they come out here and look at the other size of the score; look at the other name of the opponent and what’s on the front of their jersey versus just going out there and just giving their best. That’s not how we coach; that’s not how I coach and it’s unacceptable.”