Mission Oak girls basketball dominates season opener

Central Valley Christian’s Avery Hiemstra looks to pass the ball onto the court against Mission Oak. With their loss, the Cavaliers dropped to 1-1 on the young season. (Kason Clark)

The Hawks defend their home nest with a 64-26 victory over Central Valley Christian to open the season; Isabella Zepeda leads the way with 18 points in the win for Mission Oak

TULARE – With the high school girls basketball season finally starting, the Mission Oak Hawks were looking for a win to open their season. So on their home floor this past Thursday (Nov. 16) the Hawks took care of business with a 64-26 victory over the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers.

While it was a great way to start the season, Mission Oak head coach Dave Caetano believes the Hawks still have a lot of work to do as they get their season rolling. 

“It’s the first game of the year so there’s a lot of bugs that have to be worked out. There’s a lot of things that we need to improve on,” Caetano said. “It’ll take three, four, five or six games for this team to come together and gel as a unit.”

Along with a win to open the season, the Hawks have now won five straight meetings against the CVC Cavaliers. Caetano believes the coaching turnovers at CVC over the years have made the difference in the series, but he also believes the Cavaliers have the athletes to eventually turn things around.

“They have great athletes there. Those are good ballplayers,” Caetano said. “They’re certainly great athletes in terms of their ability to get down the floor. It’s just a matter of time and getting to develop their skill set.”

In the win to open the season, many Hawks contributed. Isabella Zepeda led the way with 18 points while Sierra Calantas scored 16 points. Braelyn Serpa also made an impact with 13 points as she was excited to finally get this season started.

“I feel like that was an amazing game to start off the season,” Serpa said. “We all did really well and I scored quite a few times.”

From the opening tipoff, the Hawks controlled the game. In the first quarter, they got rolling to take a 20-6 lead on their home court. Zepeda led the way with eight points during this stretch while Serpa contributed with six points of her own. As the Hawks got going on offense to take the lead, Serpa believed their speed gave them an edge.

“Most of our offense was on fast breaks whenever we would outlet the ball and go get layups,” Serpa said. “That was a big part of it because we’re a pretty fast team.”

By the end of the first, the Hawks held a 20-9 lead. In the second quarter, the Hawks kept rolling as they took a 32-14 lead into halftime. As the Hawks began to pull away, they used their defense to prevent the Cavaliers from finding any momentum on offense. 

“I think our team did really well on defense,” Serpa said. “I feel like as a team, we collectively had a lot of steals.”

In the second half, the Hawks continued to play well as they pulled away for the win to start their season. On the losing side, the Cavaliers dropped to 1-1 on their year. Kamryn Westra led CVC with ten points. As the Cavaliers move forward into their season, CVC head coach Fernando Barrera believes there will be plenty to learn from the loss.

“We need to go back to the drawing board and just execute our offense better,” Barrera said. “On defense, our help side was good but we shouldn’t have to use our help side every play. We have to cover our man for more than two dribbles. We got beat off the dribble too much and the help side was there, but it was just too much in the end.”

While the Hawks are happy with the win to open the year, Caetano believes they still need to improve on both ends of the court. They will need to be better if they want to survive their tough schedule this season, a schedule that Caetano hopes will make them a better team in the end. 

“I scheduled them a difficult schedule on purpose,” Caetano said. “We’re going to get beat up a little bit but that’s good for us.”

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