A season of firsts: CHS girls win league, CIF tourney looms
by Andrew Alonzo | firstname.lastname@example.org
Last season, Claremont High School’s girls varsity basketball team experienced a renaissance under first-year head coach Chilavo Anderson, going 21-9, 8-2 in league. It was a remarkable turnaround after two consecutive losing seasons.
Twelve months later the team one-upped itself, going 24-4 overall, 8-2 in league, and winning its first Palomares League title.
The girls also won three tournament championships this year: Edison, Claremont/Bonita, and the highly coveted Upland Classic. All this in its first season after being bumped up to CIF Southern Section Division II-A.
Asked how the team has kept up its rigorous standards in a new division, Coach Anderson credited his players’ commitment and passion and heightened competition in the new division.
“It started with our preparation at the end of last year going into the summer, the girls playing together all summer long,” Anderson said. “We went into the fall, played well into the fall and then it just carried over to the winter season. We’ve just become a much better basketball team, just playing together more and understanding each other and our roles.”
The Wolfpack, seeded fourth in the CIF-SS Division II-A playoffs, hosted South Coast League third place finishers Aliso Niguel after press time Thursday to begin postseason play. The winner will travel to Cypress on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game. Updated brackets are at cifss.org/brackets.
The team dispatched tough opposition throughout season, including Mark Keppel, the squad many coaches believed to be the number one team in Division II-A, as well as Riverside’s King High, and Vista Murrieta, both Division I programs.
“I think we’ve shocked some people, but I think there were others, especially coaches around the area, who were not as surprised,” Anderson said.
The second-year coach is optimistic the girls will advance this postseason given their hours on the court.
“We started practice [Tuesday] at four and they’re still here going on seven o’clock, still in the gym,” he said of the daily occurrence. “It’s going to be like ‘Lights off. Go home girls.’”
Last season Anderson described the Wolfpack as “that team to beat next year.” So far that prediction has been accurate.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to go out and win three tournaments. We did that,” he said. “Then, win the league championship. We did that. We’re in the fourth phase of that goal with the CIF championship. It’s going to be a tough road, but I like our chances.”
However the postseason unfolds, next year’s focus will be right back where it was at the outset of this season.
“The expectations aren’t going to be lowered,” Anderson said. “They’re going to be raised. It’s going to be more difficult because we’re not going to walk on that floor and surprise anyone. Our schedule isn’t going to get any easier. It’s going to be tougher.
“To be the best, you got to play the best and be the best.”