MHS Girls Basketball Dominates Difficult Opponent

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Nina Hungerland at Friday night’s game against Thacher.

The Malibu High School varsity girls’ basketball team spent part of Winter Break improving its skills against top Division I teams at the Gator Winter Classic Tournament in Las Vegas from Dec. 26-30. 

The 7-5 Sharks went into the tournament undefeated and emerged with learning experiences against some of the most difficult teams they have ever played, according to head coach Andy Meyer. 

“Our first game was against a school of 3,500 kids, and our next game was against a school of 3,200 kids,” Meyer said. “We were hoping it would get us ready for league by playing tougher teams. I didn’t know it would be that tough, but if it gets us ready for league, it’s worthwhile.”

Nevada, California, Alaska and New Zealand were represented at the Gator Winter Classic, and the Sharks faced the competition with only seven available players. 

“A lot of them had a lot of playing time and getting to play against better teams really helped,” Meyer said.

Junior Sophie Beauvoir watched the tournament from the stands due to ineligibility after recently transferring schools. From there, she had the chance to fully observe her teammates’ efforts.

“We went in knowing these teams had a lot more experience, and my coach went in knowing that, too,” she said. “In particular, [senior] Gianna [Chaisson] went in with the mindset that we would play our hardest. She was in competition mode.”

The Sharks’ efforts in Las Vegas paid off during their second game of league play against Thacher on Friday, Jan. 8. 

Meyer went into the game expecting a tough match — the Sharks were defeated by Thacher last season. 

Instead, the Sharks emerged with an impressive 48-17 victory led by senior Nina Hungerland, who posted nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. 

Senior Alana Baer had an impressive showing with 10 points, as did Chaisson, who posted nine points, two assists and three steals, and Beauvoir, who posted eight points and nine rebounds.

“Everyone was excited because it was a Friday game and we had a crowd,” Chaisson said. We all stayed really aggressive. [Thacher was] expecting a win, so it was nice for them to see that we’ve grown as a team.”

Chaisson is one of eight seniors on the predominantly senior squad. 

Beauvoir was finally able to begin competing with the Sharks when league play began and said she felt the team come together at Friday’s game. 

“We had played easier teams and I think we got content with that level of playing, but the Vegas tournament motivated us to work harder and improve,” she said.

Meyer said that Friday’s victory was completely unexpected and that it was the best game he has seen the team play overall over the past two years. 

“There were two keys to the game,” he said. “The first is our defense — it is what we work on all the time and it finally came together. That and our fast break — we had a lot of fast break points and a lot of that came from our defense. It was a great defensive game for us.

“I think the Vegas tournament played a decent role because they had to play hard in Vegas and they played just as hard here against teams we are competitive with,” he added. 

The team is only in the beginning phases of league play, but the girls hope to finish out the seniors’ last season with a league victory. 

“We’ve been together for so long,” Chiasson said. “When we finally realized our potential, we really clicked.” 

The Sharks will play their next game at home against Carpinteria on Jan. 14.