Exciting Women’s Basketball Season concludes in round two of the NCS Playoffs

Katrina Gorauskas faces off in a jump ball (Photo courtesy of Cindy Lui)

by Jon Donohue, assistant editor

Maria Carrillo High School’s women’s basketball team had an impressive season from start to finish. This year, they were the favorite to win the North Bay League, Redwood division title and advance to the North Coast Section playoffs. While overcoming injuries and adversities due to COVID, the Lady Pumas ended their season at the second round of the NCS playoffs as well as going undefeated in league play.

According to Coach Jeff Paul, “Both goals [making the NCS playoffs and winning the NBL Redwood title] were accomplished despite losing returning starters Lexi Hunt and Chloe Cunningham to season-ending knee injuries.” Paul mentioned how it was important for the Pumas to keep their confidence up,believe in themselves and trust in their training to have success despite the challenges they faced.

“Working together and trusting each other and trusting ourselves [was important], and realize that we are a good team and we can get far if we work together and trust ourselves,” said Kate O’Malley, MCHS junior and NBL-Redwood Division Second Team member. This turned out to be a major factor in their success this season, she added.

Senior Oli Parlato, NBL-Redwood first team member, spoke similarly about their teamwork. Standout wins of the season against Freedom High School and Campolindo High School demonstrated the Pumas’ ability to work as a unit. “We traveled to the East Bay and played a D1 school not knowing what to expect, and we all played as a team one of our best games all season,” said Parlato. O’Malley also thought the Freedom win was a big one. “In that game everyone on our team played really well and came together as a team,” she added.

The other standout win, against Campolindo High School, concluded in dramatic fashion in double overtime. Paul recalled, “We were down 12 points with less than two minutes to go in regulation when Oli Parlato hit two back-to-back three-pointers to close the gap quickly. We went on to take the lead briefly before the end of regulation ended in a tie. This win gave the team the confidence to believe in themselves and to help them to realize they could play at a high level.”

“Once the 3rd quarter was over we came back. With about 2 minutes left of the 4th quarter, we were still down by 10. I hit 2 threes to cut the lead and we ended up going into overtime. We ended up winning by three in the second overtime,” Parlato added.

Aside from injuries, the Pumas also faced COVID-19 challenges. “We were also hit by COVIDlike many teams, and we had to cancel a few important non-league games,” said Paul. 

To close out the regular season, the Pumas finished strong with a  twelve-game winning streak. The pumas were seeded fifth in the NCS Division 3tournament defeating Encinal High out of Alameda at home in their first-round game. In their second-round game, the Pumas faced and much tougher foe in San Marin and their season came to an end.

“Since our league isn’t as challenging as teams we faced in the playoffs, the transition was a little tough. The first game we didn’t play 100%, but still came out with a win. The second game was much more difficult, but we still fought hard in the end,” said Parlato.

The women’s basketball team represented MCHS well in their season, going undefeated in the North Bay League and making it to the second round of the NCS playoffs. With starters Hunt and Cunningham hopefully injury-free come next season, the pumas will be a force to be reckoned with.

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