Sobrato's Brianna Bouton delivers a pass during their home league game against Santa Teresa Jan. 24. The Bulldogs won, 60-50, setting themselves up to clinch the BVAL Santa Teresa East Division title two games later. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

In a showdown for first place in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa East Division, the Sobrato High girls basketball team got hit with a haymaker, falling behind 10-0 a little over two minutes into the game. 

The Bulldogs showed they’ve got a fighter’s chin, though, eventually overtaking the Saints for a crucial 60-50 win on Jan. 24. Two days later, they took care of business, rolling to a 63-13 victory over Andrew Hill. 

Meanwhile, Santa Teresa followed up the Sobrato loss with a one-point defeat to Piedmont Hills, dropping into a second-place tie with Piedmont Hills with 4-2 records. Then, on Jan. 31, the Bulldogs beat Independence 57-27 to clinch at least a share of the league championship. 

With that win, Sobrato improved to 13-3 overall and 6-0 in league play and can win the title outright with a victory in either of its last two games against Piedmont Hills or in the rematch with Santa Teresa on Feb. 9. 

Sobrato downed the Saints despite being without two starters and a key reserve, a testament to its depth and resolve. 

“We had to have some others step up and answer the calling,” Bulldogs coach Shayla McPhearson said. “Freshman Mel Glover really stepped up, played good defense, played good minutes for us. [When we’re down players], it’s next girl up.”

Junior wing Brianna Bouton was simply spectacular, scoring 26 points and helping to put the clamps down on Santa Teresa’s best offensive player in the second half. The Saints took it to the Bulldogs early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. 

Sobrato finally scored its first points on a Glover layup off the fast break with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter. But the Saints were able to hit some outside shots and crash the offensive boards for putbacks in taking a 35-28 lead into halftime. 

“I told the girls at halftime that basketball is a game of runs and it’s a long game,” McPhearson said. “We’re going to go on runs and they’re going to go on runs, but we have to be poised, we have to be patient, we have to stick to what we do, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Sobrato did what it does best, creating fast-break layups off its pressure defense, scoring in transition and taking it to the basket when there’s an opening. A big 21-9 third quarter propelled the Bulldogs into the lead for good, with Bouton hitting several key shots, often making baskets to answer a Santa Teresa score and thus quell any momentum the Saints were trying to build. 

“Brianna was a stud tonight,” McPhearson said. “She was locked in for sure. She gave us good buckets when we needed them, gave us stops when we needed those, too. She played incredible.” 

The first-year Sobrato coach praised Bouton for her desire to take on any task, no matter the degree of difficulty. 

“I put a lot of pressure on her and she answers the call pretty much every time,” McPhearson said. “I’m asking her to do a lot: guard the best player and score as well. I’m super tough on her and she can handle it. She knows when we need something, she knows when to step up and she knows what needs to be done. 

“She doesn’t back down from a challenge no matter who it is. I told her [early in the game] you’re getting your butt kicked right now and I was like, ‘take it personal, you have to take it personal.’ And that’s what she did and she came back with a very big second half.”

Bouton was ultra-efficient, shooting 10-of-16 from the floor. Chandler Kirk and Makayla Heffernan had 11 points each and Emiliana Bejarano finished with eight points. Kirk can score but is known for her perimeter defense, which was on display against the Saints. 

Heffernan is always key with her ability to stretch defenses and knock down 3-point shots, and Bejarano is a whiz with the ball in her hands, breaking down defenses and delivering laser-accurate passes which led to dozens of scoring opportunities for teammates throughout the game. 

One of the keys to the Bulldogs’ success is not taking inferior league opponents lightly. They should be competing in the BVAL’s A-league Mount Hamilton Division this season, having already beaten Oak Grove twice and losing by a single point to Branham, which is atop the Mount Hamilton Division with a 6-0 record. 

Being that as it may, Sobrato can only play the opponents in the division it was placed in this season and it has flourished, winning five of its six division contests by double-digits. 

“We don’t take any opponent lightly,” McPhearson said. “We respect our opponents and every time we step on the court, we play the same way no matter who it is. We knew this game was going to be a battle and they played like they wanted to win.”

The Sobrato High girls basketball team celebrates after a key basket vs. Santa Teresa. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Chandler Kirk was instrumental in the Bulldogs’ 60-50 win over the Saints. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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