Lady Wreckers clinch 29th straight state playoff berth
The streak continues to grow for the Staples girls basketball team.
Staples qualified for the state tournament for the 29th straight year with a 68-32 home victory over Harding Tuesday. The Lady Wreckers raised their record to 8-3 and Harding dropped to 2-9.
"It feels great," said Staples coach Ed Huydic, who is in his 32nd year as coach and has been the architect of the streak. "This crew joining the previous crews is marvelous. It's something the coaching staff, past players and parents take pride in, and to share in it is a wonderful accomplishment."
One player who has played a central role in bringing the streak to 29 is Lady Wrecker senior captain center Jessica Coelho. Coelho helped insure a return trip with her leadership and strong play in the paint.
"It's great to continue the streak and keep it alive," Coelho said. "We now have to win more games [in order] to get a better seed and do something at states."
Coelho (18 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocked shots) hit a few layups off the transition and also made a 3-pointer.
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Juniors Erica Stein (17 points, two assists, three steals) and Nikki Bukovsky (10 points, five rebounds, one assist) were consistent on both ends. Stein hit three 3-pointers and pressed Harding into committing many turnovers. Bukovsky hit set shots from Coelho off the fast break and set up her teammates inside.
One starter who helped on the glass and on defense was senior assistant captain Sydney Houseworth (five rebounds, two assists, three steals). Houseworth found ways to get in the paint to grab the rebound and was instrumental in forcing turnovers or coming up with steals on the double team.
Senior assistant captain Lisa Shirafuji, who has been hampered by injuries for her career, had a chance to display her talents and took advantage of her playing time.
Shirafuji (11 points, three rebounds, four assists, four steals) hit a couple of jump shots and got the transition going by stripping the ball from the Lady Presidents and setting up one of her teammates.
"I felt good to finally have a chance to show that even though I haven't played because of injuries, you can still keep up with the team if you keep at it," Shirafuji said. "As one of the captains, I finally had a chance to show my leadership on the court."
Being an observer helped Shirafuji.
"I did what I normally do in practice, and I learning from watching the other girls," Shirafuji said. "I tried to give some quality minutes off the bench."
Shirafuji wasn't the only backup to contribute. Freshman Maggie Fair was making her first varsity start, filling in for senior captain Remy Nolan, who was out with a sprained ankle. Fair (four points, three rebounds, three assists) fought her way into the scrum and got rebounds and found the open teammate for layups.
"We have a great solid bench and they had a chance to show something," Coelho said. "I'm proud of them. Especially Lisa, she knocked down a good percentage of her shots, and it was a good game for her."
Huydic said, "It was wonderful to have Lisa in the flow and play good. We talked about the importance of having quality time off the bench, and we hope to continue it."
Sophomore Sophie de Bruijn (four points, three steals, one rebound) continues to make strides and was a defensive force. Classmates Dayna Gelman (four points, one rebound, one assist) and Meredith Bemus (two rebounds) contributed and freshman Maddie Schemel (three rebounds, two blocked shots) made hard for Harding to drive inside.
Staples hope to build on the win in the upcoming weeks.
"In the scheme of things, it's a step to where we want to go but it's a tough road ahead of us," Huydic said.