First published in the Feb. 3 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
Their faces are filled with smiles and they sport a constant spring in their step.
It’s the San Marino High School girls’ junior varsity basketball team, and their collective attitude and spirit belies their record.
So far, the Titans are 3-9 overall and 1-4 in the Rio Hondo League, but head coach D.J. Jones likes what he sees from the spirited team.
“It’s great,” said Jones, who is an educational aid at Huntington Middle School aside from his coaching job. “We’re definitely a young team that is still learning the game of basketball. But the girls are improving every single week. What impresses me most is that they are constantly asking questions and wanting to know how they can improve as basketball players.”
Jones said that the team’s best game of the season so far was an 18-17 victory over La Cañada.
“You could just see that we had made a lot of improvement and it came to light in that game,” said Jones. “We were very organized and we communicated very well. Our bench was very engaged and even though we lost, we played with a lot of effort.”
Three student-athletes have made a special impression on Jones, including freshman Chloe Linden.
“Chloe has a tremendous command of the offense and hustles up and down the court,” Jones said. “She makes a huge effort all the time and has played very well, especially for a freshman.”
Fellow freshman Joleen Tanihaha has also excelled.
“She can play any position on the court,” Jones said. “She has learned the game on the fly and hasn’t blinked once. No matter where we play her, she makes her presence known.”
Junior Nanami Matzumoto impresses her coach and teammates with her defensive effort.
“Nanami has definitely gotten better as the season goes on,” Jones said. “She is very athletic and very aggressive.”
Other players on the team include Maya Gonzales, Jobee Wang, Lauren Amador, Linda Yan, Jodie Chon, Catherine Tang, Joyce Lin, Makenna Wong, Jasmine Magallanes, Isabella Arody and Chloe Wu.