The team hopes to surpass last year’s season.
Davis Thacker / Special to The Malibu Times
The Malibu High School girls basketball team opened its season last week with a 39-33 victory over Holy Family. The game proved to be an early confidence booster for the team.
“This year it should look up,” Senior Lexie Kelly said. “At first we weren’t expecting much, but we really came out our first game and we really went above expectations.”
The team this year hopes to surpass last year’s 13-13 season, the best in school history.
“Of course I would like to build on [last year’s success],” said Head Coach Andy Meyer, who is entering his fourth year at the helm of the team. “I would like to do the same thing again; that being make it to the playoffs and hopefully win a game or two.”
After entering the playoffs last year as a wild-card team, the Sharks pulled off a 58-57 upset against Costa Mesa that came down to the final play of the game. However, the Sharks then fell to a highly seeded Saint Joseph squad. Nevertheless, the victory against Costa Mesa marked the first time in Malibu girls basketball history that a team had made it past the first round.
While the team returns a number of players, such as Danielle Bush-who led the team in scoring, assists, and steals last season-the Sharks also lost three starters from last year’s squad. Helena and Marie Vazelakis, the Shark’s starting point and shooting guards, transferred schools, as did Sierra Zontelli, who led the team in rebounds per game last season.
However, the team is adjusting, as its new talent is finding ways to mix with players who have already been on the varsity level for three years, in Bush’s case, four.
“We have a number of girls who were brought up from JV,” Meyer said. “We have girls who are new to the program and the game, and we have girls who have been on varsity for a couple of years, so it’s a nice mix.”
The girls, who finished last season with a league record of 5-5, return to the Frontier League this year with a mix of old and new opponents. Villanova Prep and La Reina High School take the places of Santa Clara and Bishop Diego, last year’s top two teams. In addition to these two new opponents, Malibu will face off against Carpinteria, Grace Brethren and Santa Paula for the second straight season. All five of the Sharks’ league wins came against these opponents last season, giving the team confidence that they should be able to duplicate that feat this season. And after placing fourth out of the six teams in last year’s league, the Sharks hope to at least match that mark or go beyond it.
“We have two new teams in our league that are going to be tough,” Meyer said. “But I think our prospects are hopefully to do pretty well.”
With the mix of inexperienced and experienced players on this year’s team, the Sharks will rely on the leadership of multiyear varsity players such as Bush, seniors Hannah Robinson and Zoe Katz, as well as Carolyn Pushaw to guide the more inexperienced players.
“Hopefully the players who have been there a couple of years show leadership on and off the court,” Meyer said. “Off the court, hopefully they can resolve any conflicts that may arise and on the court, when something needs to be done, hopefully they can be like coaches out there.”
This week, the Sharks continue the pre-league portion of their schedule as they face off against Viewpoint, Milken Community and Faith Baptist.