If you’re going to break a record, you might as well do it in style. So it was for Live Oak High senior Adrianne Gomez, who scored a career-high 33 points—including 17 in the decisive third quarter—to lead the Acorns to a 57-34 win over Sobrato High in a Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa East Division game on Jan. 29. Gomez broke Live Oak’s career scoring mark previously held by former standout Grace Smith, who graduated two years. It’s only fitting that Gomez is the new record holder, as she played with Smith for two years.
“Grace Smith was my mentor, and I always looked up to her,” Gomez said. “When she left, I knew I had to find a way to lead this team. That leading came from her. She was a very big influence on me. … To break her record is really unbelievable because I didn’t think I could come close to that. It felt amazing, and even better that we won the game. I knew I was close, but I didn’t realize I was that close.”
The Acorns entered the week at 17-3 overall and 6-0 in the Santa Teresa East Division. Live Oak’s solid and at times suffocating defense, along with rebounding, has been the key ingredients to what so far has been a terrific season. Live Oak harassed and forced Sobrato into turnovers on roughly half of the Bulldogs’ possessions, which made one wonder how the Acorns led by just one point at halftime, 19-18.
“Going into halftime as I was walking with Aleah (Rafat) and Raegan (Kirk)—our other two captain—I looked at them and was thinking we should be up by more,” Gomez said. “In the locker room, I was thinking we were better than this. Then when we came out in the third quarter, we really started to play and put them away.”
Gomez outscored Sobrato all by herself in the third quarter, 17-11. She started the quarter with a steal and layup before the Bulldogs’ Trezure Tu’ua connected on a 3-pointer to make it 21-21. That’s when Gomez got hot, draining shots from the outside and hitting floaters in the lane. At 5-foot-5, Gomez often has to get her shots off against taller players. That’s why over her career Gomez has developed a quick release, knowing it was a necessity.
“My dad and I have worked on that quick release for a long time since I am a shorter guard,” Gomez said. “I’ve worked on my floater game and a flick shot when I get in the lane so I can get the shot off against the taller players.”
Live Oak’s full-court pressure was suffocating, and it controlled the boards from the get-go. Once the offense started to come around, it was game over. Sobrato had success when it could get the ball down low to center Kira Levandoski, who shot 60 percent from the floor and finished with a team-high 15 points. Levandoski’s teammate, freshman Makayla Heffernan, finished with nine points. Heffernan showed poise and could be an league MVP-type player if she continues to improve.
Rafat was the other Live Oak player to finish in double-digit scoring, with 11 points. A junior forward who transferred in from Monte Vista Christian, Rafat has added a dynamic presence to the team with her ability to score from in the post or the outside. Kiefer cut his halftime speech a little early to let the players hash things out for themselves. It apparently worked.
“I left and gave them a couple of minutes to figure it out. And whatever they did, maybe we keep doing it,” Kiefer said. “I felt like in the first half we were playing a little tense, so we mainly talked about being calm, coming out relaxed and in the end realizing it’s just another game. Obviously, with the stakes involved and them being our rival, it’s easier said than done. But in the end we have to have the mindset that it’s just another game we need to win. The girls were pumped up, and they’ve been excited for this game, well, since our last one with Sobrato. And that kind of showed when our shots were going too long or too short, but once we played calm, we were good to go.”
Gomez, who has been a starter since her freshman year, has developed a quiet confidence that allows her to keep taking shots, even when she’s having an off shooting night.
“I think in my first two years, I kind of relied on other seniors to score points for the team,” she said. “But this year knowing we had to get points, I feel like that is why I had to be more aggressive. I also give it up to my teammates who trust me to score and rely on me.”
Kiefer said the beauty of this year’s team is that it has a handful of players who can carry the scoring load on a given night, including Gomez, Rafat and Kirk. Gomez actually didn’t know she had broken the career scoring mark until Kiefer announced it to the team afterward.
“Tonight it was Adrianne’s turn to again to carry us (scoring-wise),” Kiefer said. “She had a fabulous, fabulous game. When we needed her to step up, she stepped up big. She carried us through that third quarter, got us the lead we needed and our defensive intensity started to pick up. … Adrianne breaking one of the Acorns’ greats Grace Smith’s record with over 1,200 points and climbing is a great accomplishment. She is climbing up the ladder and doing her thing. The future is bright for her, and I think the future is still bright for this team. We still have another stone in the road we have to knock off, and we’ve still got a long way to go. We know it’s a long road, and we still believe we haven’t accomplished everything we’ve set out to do.”