Armed with athleticism, length and a hyper-competitive drive, Sobrato High sophomore Briana Bouton reflects what the team aims to bring every game: a tenaciousness from start to finish.
All of Bouton’s skills were on display in the Bulldogs’ 69-12 win over crosstown rival Live Oak High in a Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa East Division game on Jan. 25. Bouton had 16 points and Makayla Heffernan had a game-high 18 points to lead the way.
Sobrato coach Erica Wallace said Bouton’s energy is infectious.
“Briana’s defensive motor as well as her offensive motor keeps us afloat,” Wallace said. “She has no quit in her and the thing I appreciate about her most is she’s very coachable and moldable. She’s got a lot of creativity and imagination and she always wants to try something new. Sometimes it can be a little risky, but I think for the most part her being a sophomore and being one of my leading scorers and constantly contributing on the court, it just feels good knowing she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”
Although the score might say otherwise, Live Oak is gradually improving and has definitely made inroads since the start of the season in late November. The Acorns have earned three wins this season and played a tough non-league schedule that included a combination of A and B-league teams.
They just have it tough when they go up against a buzzsaw like Sobrato, which is more experienced and superior in just about every facet of the game. Kashari Gravenberg, the Acorns’ lone senior, had a team-best eight points. An undersized post player, Gravenberg displayed a nice touch as she made a couple of shots from the top of the key.
“Kashari is having a great season and is battling out there every night,” Acorns coach Mike Kiefer said.
Sophomore Isabelle Cline has had a breakout season with a couple of double-figure scoring games, including 12 points in a 33-32 win over Gunderson High on Jan. 18.
Junior Emma Ghione and sophomore Maya Rafat have also had some solid performances throughout the season.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are a different team as of late with the additions of sophomore Emiliana Bejerano (11 points) and junior Makayla Heffernan. Bejerano scored on a couple of nifty up and under post moves off the low block, all the more impressive considering fewer players utilize a back to the basket in today’s game.
Ten different players scored for Sobrato, showcasing the depth of the team. Savvy Brito, Layla Elderkin, Olivia Tapia, Chandler Kirk, Violet Asuncion, Alexis Galindo, Jaci Bolton and Natasha Huerta all played quality minutes for a Sobrato team that looks to challenge Independence High for the league championship.
The 76ers got the best of the Bulldogs in their first matchup, 60-41. However, Wallace said the team learned a lot from that result and the rematch on Feb. 3 should be a doozy.
“We’re focusing on the next game ahead of us, but Independence is definitely on our radar,” she said. “We have to stay focused until then, take care of business in these next few games and research and improve basically on our scouting report against Independence and improve our game. We are anticipating the next time we see them it’s going to be a really intense and amazing game.”
Wallace added Independence scored a ton of fast-break points, making Sobrato pay for not getting fully back on defense.
“They’re also a phenomenal shooting team and on the flip side, we couldn’t buy a basket in their gym,” she said.
Heffernan can score it from the outside or off dribble penetration, often using running floaters in the lane. While Sobrato has a blend of sophomores, juniors and seniors, Live Oak is a team filled with players who are learning on the fly. Players like freshman point guard Lilly Mojica have plenty of potential as they gain more experience.
“We are young and we are progressing, but it’s kind of like a roller coaster ride right now,” Kiefer said. “Obviously, the score doesn’t look like it, but we’re getting better and they’re starting to understand the concepts the coaching staff wants them to do. But again, it’s baby steps. I’m proud of the girls because they keep fighting and they keep battling.”
Asuncion and Brito had a nice sequence in the third quarter when they assisted each other’s basket on back-to-back possessions. Wallace said her players did a great job of staying poised and harnessing their emotions against their crosstown rivals.
“It was very clear and focused on our end,” she said. “(Leading up to the game) a lot of my players looked at me and said, ‘Coach, I’m hungry.’ Which means on the court they want to eat, they want to get a steal, they want to get rebounds. And they don’t tell me that all the time. It’s like, ‘OK, we’re ready to go’ and I like it because they have a little bit of swagger and competitiveness.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.