MHS Girls Basketball Wins Battle by the Beach Tourney

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From left, Sara Joshi, Alana Baer, Arielle Ross, Gianna Chaisson, Karen Sanchez, Ana Cervantes, Hannah Hunter, Kendall Jordan and Nina Hungerland

For the past two years, Malibu coach Andy Meyer has seen his girls’ basketball team suffer through aches, pains and plenty of tough defeats. Yet, it hasn’t deterred him one bit or his special group of young ladies. 

Now wiser and more mature, the Lady Sharks are quickly becoming a strong team with a veteran coach leading the way. Nothing was more prevalent at last week’s first annual “Battle by the Beach” tournament at Malibu High than the maturation of the team’s nine players. 

Behind the excellent play of junior forward Kendall Jordan, Malibu ran the table and won the tournament with a 41-18 victory over Foothill Tech of Ventura in the title game. Jordan led the Sharks with 15 points and 11 rebounds and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. 

“We’ve been able to hold our own and are growing together every day,” Jordan said. “We definitely have bonded and have formed a sisterhood. We are like a family together. We work really well together.” 

Jordan scored 29 points on 13 of 18 shooting in the semifinal overtime win against Pacific Hills High of West Hollywood. In addition, she had 15 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. Junior guard Ana Cervantes was also named to the All-Tournament team. 

With only one senior on the roster and eight juniors, Malibu has won five of its first eight games this season. The Sharks won eight games total over the last two seasons combined. That has become a distant memory as this team has high aspirations for this season and beyond. 

“We’ve been working really hard since summer. We are playing a lot better together,” junior guard Gianna Chaisson said. “We are literally like family. We’ve known each other for so long that we know each other’s habits. I’m really excited for the season.” 

Jordan, Cervantes, Chaisson, senior Karen Sanchez and juniors Nina Hungerland, Sara Joshi, Alana Baer and Arielle Ross have played together on varsity the past two seasons. Junior Hannah Hunter joined the Sharks over the summer after transferring from Palisades Charter. 

Meyer trusts the process, and the team’s ongoing journey brings satisfaction every day. 

“These girls are now becoming basketball players,” Meyer said. “They understand the game where two years ago they wouldn’t understand if I asked them about it. They are seeing stuff now that they didn’t know what it meant two years ago. The improvement has been great. The maturation has been quite remarkable.” 

The Lady Sharks are a tight-knit group that relies on their admiration for each other to play as one collective unit on the court. Many of the players have played together since the fifth grade, some as far back as first grade. 

Off the court, whether watching film of a previous game in Meyer’s classroom or having lunch together on game day, Malibu has formed a bond that’s become the team’s strongest asset. 

“This team is very much like a family. I think it’s our greatest strength,” Meyer said. “You never see anybody getting down on anyone else. There is a lot of encouragement by everyone.” 

The Sharks showed their unselfish style of play and team cohesiveness during the “Battle by the Beach” tournament. Malibu defeated Santee High of Los Angeles (42-25), San Gabriel Academy (40-20), Pacific Hills (62-54 in overtime) and Foothill Tech to claim the championship. 

Chaisson scored 13 points, Baer added nine and Hungerland had eight points against Santee. In the quarterfinals, Cervantes had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Hunter added eight rebounds against San Gabriel Academy. 

In a semifinal thriller against Pacific Hills, Joshi hit two key free throws with 1:32 remaining in overtime to give the Sharks the lead and then followed with a basket 23 seconds later to seal the victory for the Sharks. Chaisson added 10 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. 

Lastly, the Sharks defeated Foothill Tech and won the tournament championship. 

Next up for Malibu is the Avalon Tournament on Catalina Island from January 1-3. The Sharks are a part of the newly revised Frontier League which begins play on January 6. 

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Meyer. “We are in a new league that should be more competitive than in previous years. I have a great group of girls. It should be an exciting and successful year.”