Malibu girls look to engineer turnaround

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Coach Andy Meyer and the MHS girls basketball team foresee a marked improvement in 2013-14.

A year older, a year wiser.

After enduring a rough season last year that produced two wins total, the Malibu High girls ‘basketball team has returned to the court with renewed vigor. With just one senior departing from last year’s squad, the Sharks bring back a host of experience that includes five seniors, one junior and seven promising sophomores. Coach Andy Meyer projects improvement with the return of four starters who know his system and philosophy.

“I’m looking forward to it. This is basically the same team as last year with a few extra additions,” Meyer said. “Last year was bit of a struggle with all of our young players but there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming year. We should improve greatly.”

Malibu begins the season this week at the Viewpoint Tournament and then travels to Solvang for games against Dunn and Midland this Friday and Saturday.

Last season Meyer spent much of the year teaching his youthful team fundamentals while emphasizing attention to detail. Now in his seventh season as coach, “everybody is an experienced player.” He looks forward to bypassing the baby steps and coaching the intricacies of the game.

“It’s a big difference,” Meyer said. “It used to be where it was girls playing basketball. Now they are becoming basketball players.”

Seniors Agaly De Jesus and Glenis Leslie will be the focal points and backbone to a team that has forged a very close friendship. Together the two captains will be counted upon by Meyer to be the driving force behind the Lady Sharks.

“Agaly has been a huge player for the last three years,” said Meyer. “She’s a natural leader. I expect to see her leadership on and off the court keeping the team together.

“Glenis probably works harder than anybody on the team.”

De Jesus is a 5-foot-7 forward who is relentless on the glass while the 5-foot-5 Leslie might be the team’s best shooter.

Chemistry is not a problem. The seniors say camaraderie among the girls has produced a close-knit team that trusts one another for support and encouragement.

“We already know each other from last year so we are really comfortable with each other,” De Jesus said. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we work well as a team on the court.”

Leslie sees the team as a family that will produce better results this time around because of their care and respect for one another.

“We all get along and help each other,” Leslie said. “I think it’s going to be a great year because we’ve been working hard and trying to improve ourselves. We should win more games this year than we did last year.”

Meyer intends to play a rotation of seven to nine ladies that includes a sophomore class that is beaming with talent.

Sophomores Kendall Jordan, Nina Hungerland and Sara Joshi form a front court of low-post players who will join guards Gianna Chaisson and Ana Cervantes to serve as the foundation for the future of the girls’ program.

But before Meyer can even think about the next two years, he will look to De Jesus and Leslie to lead the Sharks to success in the 2013-14 season.

“I have more responsibility now since I am a senior,” said De Jesus, a four-year starter for MHS. “I have to set a good example and show everyone how committed I am and the hard work I’ve put in to playing basketball. We are getting better. If we just continue to work hard, Malibu High can be a good girls’ basketball team.”

After this week’s games the team takes a break for Christmas. A trip to Catalina Island to play in the Avalon Tournament is planned for after the holiday. The Sharks first home game will take place Jan. 7 against Bishop Diego.