Great Oak’s girls basketball team continued their roll over opponents by easily defeating the visiting Lady Tigers from Elsinore 74-25. The game was played on January 3rd.
The Lady Wolfpack team is averaging almost a twenty-point margin of victory over their pre-season opponents, including a high margin of 65 (82-17) against the West Valley Mustangs and a low of seven points (48-41) against Valley View of Moreno Valley.
Great Oak’s only loss came last week in the Championship Game of the SoCal Holiday Prep Classic against the Bishop’s Knights of La Jolla, 67-66. Bishop’s is the #4 ranked team in the state and #9 in the nation (maxpreps.com). Knights’ freshman Destiny Littleton scored the final seven points for her team, including the game-winning free throw with six seconds left. Littleton ended with 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.
“Great Oak is a top-notch team,” said Elsinore coach Ron Kusayanagi, “They are solid from top to bottom.” Elsinore opened their pre-season 4-1 with wins over Rancho Verde, San Jacinto, Temecula Valley, and Murrieta Mesa; they lost their opener to Summit Skyhawks who are now 11-2. The Lady Tigers’ line-up has been battling injuries and played without their starting point guard against the Wolfpack. They entered the Great Oak game following a tough 55-52 loss to Murrieta Valley team the night before.
The Wolfpack full-court man-to-man pressure defense created numerous turnovers and kept the Tigers from effective half-court offense. “A majority of our practice is focused on defense,” said Wolfpack Head Coach Shannon Maurice, ” We were much better the second half.” The Wolfpack allowed 17 points in the first half and only eight in the second, including only one field goal in the final period. The Wolfpack also dominated the boards, bringing down three times as many as the Tigers.
Forward Abby Welch led the Wolfpack to a 16-7 lead first quarter lead, scoring eight of her sixteen points. Her opening three-pointer was matched by Elsinore’s Renee Vellos for the only tie of the game.
Despite a poor shooting second quarter, Great Oak shot 5-of-5 from the charity stripe while Elsinore hit only 2-of-8 to outscore the Tigers 17-10. Mikayla Williams scored seven and Roya Rustamzada added six.
The Wolfpack came out of the break on fire, with Rustamzada playing point guard and dishing five consecutive assists to four different players to spark a 27-6 run. “We share the basketball well,” said Maurice, “Roya sees the court and finds open players. She can play every position on the court, but we most often need her inside.” Samantha Gonzales scored eight points in the final period to seal the game with a 14-2 finish.
“It’s a matter of playing four quarters,” said Kusayanagi, “tonight we played maybe 2-1/2. We really need to rest our legs following these two back-to-back running games.” Crystal Malveaux led the Tigers with ten points. Kusayanagi expects his team to finish in the top three in the Sunbelt League with Lakeside the team to beat.
Welsh and Williams each finished with 16 points for the Wolfpack. Rustamzada added 14. Gonzales and Deja Burnside each contributed eight points. “We have a lot of scorers,” said Welch, “Anyone can step up. We’re looking forward to dominating our league.”
“We played a lot of athletic teams in the tournament [SoCal Holday Prep Classic] and gained a lot of confidence,” said Maurice, “We should match up well against Vista Murrieta who is the team to beat in our league.” Vista Murrieta is 10-4 and ranked #43 in the state (maxpreps). Great Oak is ranked #12 in California and #33 in the nation. The two meet in the second game of league play, January 16 at Great Oak.