Kianna Maldia drives to the basket in Sobrato's matchup with Live Oak. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Early in the first quarter of Sobrato High’s non-league game against Live Oak on Jan. 5, Bulldogs point guard Kianna Maldia displayed a Midas touch as she dribbled through three defenders near the top of the key. Maldia made her way to lane before producing a no-look pass to Trezure Tu’ua, who converted the layup. The play was one of many highlights Maldia produced in leading Sobrato to a 48-38 victory. 

The Bulldogs entered Tuesday’s game against Evergreen Valley at 12-4 overall and 1-1 in the Blossom Valley League’s Mount Hamilton Division. Barely 5 feet tall, Maldia played like a giant and had it all working against Live Oak. The Sonoma State commit finished with 16 points, 10 steals—yes, 10 steals—six assists and five rebounds. If Maldia wasn’t pulling up for a 3-point shot, she was relentlessly driving to the basket to create multiple scoring opportunities her teammates.

“I’m just making sure to stay calm throughout any situation and make others around me better,” she said. “This was a big bounce back win after we had two losses (to Cupertino and Piedmont Hills). I’m proud of this team for what we’ve accomplished in the last couple of years and what we can potentially accomplish in the future.”

In between her no-look passes and dribble-drive penetration, Maldia set the tone and controlled the tempo in the same manner as the best point guards do regularly. The Bulldogs led 12-10 after the opening quarter before they blitzed the Acorns in the second, outscoring them 20-3 to take a commanding 15-point advantage into halftime. 

Sobrato stretched its lead to 19 points, 40-21, when Maldia banked in a 3-point shot from the right wing with 2 minutes, 1 second left in the third quarter. Moments before, Maldia saw her younger brother in the crowd and told him she was going to hit a 3-pointer the next time down the floor. 

Maldia’s 10 steals represented a career-high and was impressive in scope. Despite not being long, Maldia’s instincts and quickness allowed her to anticipate passes and beat players to the ball. Maldia’s impact defensively was just as powerful as what she did offensively. 

“Once I do it, everyone else starts doing it,” she said. “They’re getting deflections, steals and big boards. Everyone contributed tonight.”

Especially sophomore standout post Tu’ua, who finished with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Any time Tu’ua got the ball on the low block, she was a threat to score. Agile and strong, Tu’ua made a number of effective moves to the basket.

“Trezure will go to work, no questions asked she’ll do it,” Maldia said. “She’s a big asset to this team and she is one of the reasons why I think we’re going to do well.”

Three days after the win, Sobrato opened league play against a tough Silver Creek team. Even though the Bulldogs lost by 14 points, Maldia knows the team can still improve as the season goes along. One point of emphasis lies in the mental focus when the team gets a big lead, as was the case against Live Oak. 

The Acorns outscored the Bulldogs 23-18 in the second half, as junior guard Adrianne Gomez scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. Gomez was one of the few bright spots for Live Oak, which also received some strong minutes from senior forward Kendall Kirk, who made some hustle plays and rebounded the ball well.  

If it wasn’t for Gomez, the score could’ve been much worse. No one else on the Acorns scored more than five points, and Gomez did all she could to keep Live Oak in the game. She drained three 3-pointers and stayed aggressive throughout. Staying aggressive within the flow of the game is something the Bulldogs plan to work on. 

“We weren’t all in it later in the game because we wanted to slow down the pace and make the right decision,” Maldia said. “But we were so focused on making the right decision instead of just playing the game that we kind of took ourselves out of it going into the fourth quarter, which almost hurt us. We just have to be careful in certain situations like those because every time we have a big cushion, we tend to drop a little bit. We also need to improve on our communication to make sure we’re all 100 percent focused, especially in those moments of the game where we need the right chemistry. It’s improving in those moments that will make us a better team.”

Like any standout player, Maldia knows she needs to improve on her game as well. 

“I want to improve in my decision-making,” she said. “Sometimes I will force things and know it was not the right read.” 

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Maldia tends to make the correct decision most of the time. 

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