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Varsity Girls Basketball Wins Fourth-Ever State Championship

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Varsity Girls Basketball Wins Fourth-Ever State Championship

The varsity girls basketball team and coaches pose for a picture as the new Division II CIF State Champions. Photo courtesy of Danielle McNair via MaxPreps.

The varsity girls basketball team and coaches pose for a picture as the new Division II CIF State Champions. Photo courtesy of Danielle McNair via MaxPreps.

The varsity girls basketball team and coaches pose for a picture as the new Division II CIF State Champions. Photo courtesy of Danielle McNair via MaxPreps.

The varsity girls basketball team and coaches pose for a picture as the new Division II CIF State Champions. Photo courtesy of Danielle McNair via MaxPreps.

Caroline Frantz, News Editor

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On Saturday March 9, Menlo’s varsity girls basketball won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division II State Championships 70-63. The game took place against Rolling Hills Preparatory School at Golden 1 Center, the home court of the NBA team, the Sacramento Kings. Rolling Hills won the Division IV State Championship last year.

This victory was the girls basketball team’s fourth-ever State win; they won consecutively for three years in Division V, from 1989 to 1991. Though the girls won with a lead of seven points, the whole game was a battle, with the higher score going back and forth between the two schools. The score was close going into the final moments of the game, but then the Knights pulled ahead in the last minute and finished it off with a strong lead.

Menlo’s high scorers were sophomore Coco Layton (17 points, 11 rebounds), sophomore Avery Lee (15 points, nine assists) and senior Sun-Mi Oh (12 points, 10 rebounds).

According to Oh, one of the biggest challenges of the game was playing against one player who was 6’4” from Rolling Hills, a height unmatched on the Menlo team. Despite that, Oh said that junior Maeia Makoni and freshman Sharon Nejad played exceptional defense against her.

Going into the game, Lee told a CBS reporter in an interview that in order to beat Rolling Hills the team would have to “give it [our] all, 110%.” To watch the full story by San Francisco’s KPIX-5 (CBS), click here.

This year, Menlo has a particularly young team, with only one senior. “[The feeling of winning] is a difficult feeling to describe because it was such a surreal moment,” Oh said. “But I think that when I realized we actually achieved our goal I was extremely happy and proud of all the girls because everyone gave it 110% throughout the entire season and especially in the last game of the year.” Oh first played on varsity when she was pulled up her freshman year for varsity playoffs and has been on varsity since her sophomore year.

Coach John Paye discusses game-time strategy with the team. Photo courtesy of Joe McDonald.

As a spectator of the game, Student Body President Marianne Siulangapo said that it was one of the most exciting games she’s been to. “It was surreal to see girls I’ve been watching for almost a decade not only play basketball in front of me, in a professional stadium, but to be able to watch them on a high definition, high quality Jumbotron as well. Words cannot describe how happy and proud I am to have had the opportunity to watch my girls play in such a well-deserved game,” Siulangapo said. “Knowing that the girls have been working for this game for years, in despite of all the challenges and sacrifices made, makes their championship even sweeter. Every free throw, steal, three-pointer, you name the play and you could hear our Menlo side of the gym cheering.” Siulangapo has played on the team in years past, but couldn’t this year due to an injury; however, throughout the season she attended 19 of all 31 games.

Additionally, Siulangapo said that parent support has been amazing for the team this year, which was apparent at the game this weekend. “Our family and parent support has been […] the best family [and] parent support system I’ve ever seen for a team. […] I could just feel the positive energy in the air for our ladies, and I hoped that they could feel it too as they looked out to our sea of blue and gold,” Siulangapo said. According to her, there were also several members of the Sequoia High School varsity girls basketball team were there to support, whom Menlo had played against during the off-season.

The team finished off the season with a game record of 26-5, with two of the their losses against the Open Division State Champion runner-up, Pinewood, who lost to the Sierra Canyon School. Overall, the team’s closeness and trust was what led them to this monumental win. “This season has been very special, definitely my favorite one of the four years I played at school, just because the team chemistry was amazing and it really felt like a family,” Oh said. “Obviously winning state and making history in our program are both incredible accomplishments and something no one can take away from us, but I really feel like what made this season so special in my mind was the group of girls that I was lucky enough to be a part of. I think this team [and] season [have] really shifted the culture of our program and I’m excited to see what they do next year.”

To read more about Menlo’s Varsity Girls Basketball Team, click here.

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Varsity Girls Basketball Wins Fourth-Ever State Championship