The 7th and 8th Grade Girls Orange County Stars brought home the championship trophy earlier this month at the Battle of the Best tournament, which took place at the MAP Sports Facility in Garden Grove, California.
The team rallied to victory against SoPac West in the championship game to win by 5 points with a final score of 35-30. The victory was a testament to the team’s determination to stick with it after losing by 20 points to the same team less than 24 hours earlier.
Stars coach, Rich Estrada, attributes the championship victory to an outstanding outside shooting percentage, great communication on defense, and precise and effective ball movement. “We put together a game plan and the girls executed it perfectly,” said Estrada.
According to his estimates, about 40 points were left on the court in the first game against SoPac West, because the shots simply did not fall. He said it was encouraging to see his team regroup after a tough loss and see the shots go in once again.
The team showed resilience to pull off the victory, while missing their starting point guard at the game. Their second point guard rose to the occasion and was very effective in distributing the ball. Aliya Gonzalez had a strong inside presence and a was a force to be reckoned with on the boards. When asked about Aliya, Coach Estrada said, “Her efforts seemed to create a big tempo shift that helped give the team the edge throughout the course of the game.”
The National Tournament is on the horizon and the girls have it as their focus. Over the last 3 years, they have been All-Net champs all 3 years and they are hoping to make it to the big show this year. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to make it a reality.
Coach Estrada said of the team, “We are a good team, and we are working to become a great team. Every game is a team effort. They play as a team,they play together, and there is a lot camaraderie on the team.” The team objectives going forward is to help improve consistency on the floor, and to continue learning to adapt to changes of personnel and sets put on the court by the opposing team.
Coach Estrada like the Stars program because of its ability to bring in a lot of different talent around Orange County. The program “creates a high school and almost college-like team atmosphere that brings people together to work for a common goal.”
The Path to Victory
Valley Rage 26-21 W
SoPac West 13-33 L
SoPac East 31-8 W
Championship Game- SoPac West 35-30 W