East County Sports

Short-handed Pats get lesson from Dons




EastCountySports.com staff report

SAN DIEGO – The No. 3-ranked Cathedral Catholic Lady Dons took it to the visiting Christian Patriots in a Western League game on Tuesday evening in what could surely be used for lessons other than basketball for Lady Patriots head coach Vickie Carrington.

Christian High was without four players, including all-section star Kristin Williams.

To make matters more difficult, top rebounder Serene Weckback left with an ankle injury early in the game.

Still, the Patriots made a good effort on the boards considering, grabbing 27 caroms to the Dons’ 33.

“We did not have Kristin, Koko (Akridge), Amyaha (Walker), or Jaya (Little),” Carrington said. “Serene hurt her ankle and so we didn’t have her either early in the game. We had six girls. It was tough, but I really tried not to focus on anything but coaching my girls through this tough spot and trying to find the positives to build on.”

The Dons built a lead of 11-2 out of the game but they had extended the lead to 36-3 in the second quarter.

By the time the Patriots reached double digits, they were down by more than 40 points.

“My positives tonight were that we cut our turnovers down, though they were still high we had six less than our average,” Carrington said. “The girls never quit, we played hard. And I feel in spurts players tried to do something. We do need to be more consistent and play four quarters with who we have that day.”

Cathedral is an elite team this year and was surely going to win this game considering the surrounding circumstances but the Lady Pats did themselves no favors by shooting 21 percent from the field.

“Cathedral is solid… loaded,” Carrington added. “They have big, athletic, elite players. They play fast, aggressive, unselfish basketball. They move the ball well, and it doesn’t matter who is open, they did a great job and didn’t take it easy on us just because we are wounded.”

It was a great building experience for several of the younger players, facing some of the county’s top players, in extensive playing time.

“Alyssa Speers was my player of the game from my perspective she put the team on her back and really try to make something happen,” Carrington said. “I’m extremely proud of her. I also want to shout out Tiffany Bickford and Noelle Sanchez. These three girls played with a lot of heart tonight and really try to play together.”

Speers is a sophomore guard who was asked to pick up most of the minutes in Williams’ absence.

“Being called upon to start, at first, felt sudden because we had just found out about Kristin’s injury yesterday at practice,” Speers said. “But I feel that being able to calm down and handle the pressure was a great confidence booster. I was so glad to be able to have confidence and play hard against such a talented team and assist my teammates, and I think we can all continue to learn from this game. Knowing that Someone is always watching is also a great encouragement and motivates me to do my best and let Him do the rest.”

Bickford, a junior, is the most experienced of the players who had their minutes increased for the game.

” I brought high energy to this game and I was trying to stay as calm as possible and show the younger girls that I wasn’t scared so they should not be either,” Bickford said. “I just wanted to be an example for them so they could depend on me.

“I feel I have become more seasoned because of the last two years in my high school career. I do not get nervous anymore and I am learning to just play my game no matter the competition. I definitely feel that all the extra training and weight lifting has helped me because it has physically prepared my body to endure all the pain of playing a lot of games in a short amount of time and it has caused me just to be stronger emotionally and physically.

“I think that last weekend (against top-ranked La Jolla Country Day) and today, I was just able to go out there and just show my teammates that it’s okay and that we all mistakes and to just play relaxed and do the things that you do well. I also just have been able to grow my leadership skills because I have become more of a leader on the team with everyone being out because of injury. I am glad that Coach Vickie trusts me enough to be a leader out on the court and to just mentor and encourage all of my teammates especially the younger ones. I am glad to take the leadership role on my team and I just want to prove to everyone including myself that I can play. ”

Cathedral Catholic is 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the Western League, while Christian fell to 3-5 overall (1-1 Western) and are on a rare losing stretch that has seen the Pats go just 2-5 over their last seven contests.

“Going out there playing one of the best girls teams in the county was hard but overall good for me,” Sanchez said. “I learned a lot of valuable things from this game, especially to not beat myself up or get down on myself when we are lacking players and I’m needed on the floor in a good game or bad game.

“I think it is definitely better to play harder teams instead of teams we can easily blow out because we can learn from our struggles and how to play against tougher teams, gain confidence, and overall get stronger, mentally and physically.

“At the end of the game, I’m proud of myself for not giving up even though sometimes I felt like I wanted to. I’m glad I pushed through and even got to learn a lot of valuable things about myself, the team, and the game.

“Coach Vickie and I had a conversation about how I need to be in Christ before a game which really encouraged me. I think that is the next step for our team and myself individually to get better by giving our talents to God. That game, I was distracted and did not surrender my burdens to him. Next game, I think it would be valuable to take the time to pray 1-on-1 with God ask him to give us strength for he is our source of strength.”

At Christian High, it’s always 110 percent… for Him, and that works for Carrington, particularly in these types of basketball games of growth.

“Their character as young women of God is awesome,” Carrington concluded. “That’s why I love coaching in a Christian environment. I get to share Biblical principles as I try to honor the Lord through my coaching.

“I’m competitive and intense on game day, my passion for the game is seen every game, whether we win or lose, I believe in my girls and encourage them to “win the day” by doing their best for the Lord, not man.

“We are young, so I’m sure it’s intimidating a bit, and we have played or will play most of the top ten teams this season, as we do every season. I’m proud of my girls, they know that ‘God has not given us the spirit of fear.’ We will keep grinding, trusting one another, and believing in ourselves.”


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