Sobrato’s Brianna Bouton dribbles down the court against Hollister High School during a Dec. 1 game in Watsonville. Photo: Jonathan Natividad

Sobrato girls basketball is coming off two productive seasons in which they qualified for the post-season playoffs. A young Bulldogs squad is off to a good start this year, with a new challenge lying ahead as they have been shifted up one level to the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s top division, the Mount Hamilton.

In early-season action, Sobrato is 3-2, including a third-place finish in last weekend’s Watsonville Tournament. The Bulldogs beat Scotts Valley 41-30, lost to Hollister 45-37 and triumphed over Salinas 58-43.

“We’re a very young team,” Sobrato coach Lawrence Crawford said. “So far we’ve achieved well. We still have lots of games to play and figure out our identity. Brianna (Bouton) is at wing and she does it all. Jaci (Bolton) is our top post player. My primary ball handler is Violet (Asuncion). She’s our floor general. We have five freshmen on varsity and they are developing quickly.”

Last year, Sobrato finished 19-6, winning the BVAL, Santa Teresa – East Division title with a 9-1 record. In the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs, the Bulldogs bounced Leland 42-27 and then lost to Christopher 47-39. In the 2021-22 season, Sobrato was 14-9, second behind Independence in the BVAL, Santa Teresa – East, and lost 49-45 to Saratoga in the first round of the CCS Division III playoffs.

Bouton was named Co-MVP of the BVAL, Santa Teresa – East Division last year. The Bulldogs also return “Junior of the Year” Emiliana Bejarano and Second Team selection Violet Asuncion. Other major contributors include Ida Tuipelehake, Cameron Isle and Graciella Marchan. The “fab five” freshmen are Marchan, Isle, Mikeyla Coley, Madison Miller and Emma Purtell.

On Dec 1, Sobrato gave Hollister quite a battle. The Balers, fresh off two Pacific Coast Athletic League, Gabilan Division co-championships and second round CCS playoff appearances, returned co-league MVP senior Bailey Cotter. Sobrato trailed just 19-18 at halftime and fought evenly except for a rough spell in the third quarter that gave Hollister the victory. Asuncion was sharp from the outside with three 3-pointers and on the inside with three layups, along with her ball-handling. Bejarano sank two triples on the way to a 13-point outing.

“I think we did really well, given how many underclassmen we have,” Asuncion said. “It is a good learning experience.”

Crawford cited missed shots from the inside as being decisive. He noted good transition play from his team. 

Hollister coach Mitch Burley complimented the Bulldogs’ man-to-man defense for causing his team major struggles. Cotter was held to 12 points and Madelyn Davis scored 10 for Hollister.

“We like to push it and play pressure defense,” Crawford added. “This year, I’d like us to see the younger players develop and for everyone to have a good time.”

Sobrato High School’s Violet Asuncion goes up for a three-pointer during a Dec. 1 game against Hollister High School at the Watsonville Tournament. Photo: Jonathan Natividad

The Bulldogs got back on track on Dec. 2, dispatching Salinas to capture third place. The Cowboys jumped out on top but Sobrato scored 22 points in the second quarter to trail just 31-30 at halftime. Bouton had four buckets during the period and Bejarano and Isle each added five points in the rally.

Sobrato continued the charge after the break, outscoring Salinas 15-5 in the third quarter to take control and lead 45-36. Bouton had four more hoops in that run, one a 3-pointer.

“We like to play at a fast pace,” assistant coach Tuan Tran said. “We want them to play at our pace. We have a very deep team and a deep bench. We had fresh legs every quarter and we made them work for every basket. We wore them down.”

Sobrato outscored Salinas 13-7 in the final stanza to run away with the win. Asuncion and Bouton each had two baskets.

“Coming off a loss, we had to bounce back,” Bouton said. “The key was to push the ball up court and tire them out. We got a lot out of transition. It’s going to be a tough league but as the season goes on, we’ll definitely improve.”

League play begins January 11 at Evergreen Valley.

Sobrato’s Emiliana Bejarano battles for a rebound against Hollister High School Dec. 1 at the Watsonville Tournament. Photo: Jonathan Natividad
Brianna Bouton, left, of Sobrato, defends Hollister High School’s Bailey Cotter during a Dec. 1 matchup at the Watsonville Tournament. Photo: Jonathan Natividad
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