It was just a few weeks ago that Ashley Day was left with nothing but disappointment after the San Marcos High girls volleyball team lost in the quarterfinals of the CIF playoffs in four sets.
But, fast forward to Thursday, and the senior was nothing short of relentless for the Royals girls basketball team, pulling down 10 rebounds helping the team earn a 46-35 win at Cate School.
“It was hard. Volleyball was really fun and we went really far and it was a good time, but I am happy to be back with this team because I love my teammates and I love the change of pace,” Day said.
With the win, San Marcos improves to 2-0 on the year. Both wins have come by double-digits.
Day, who also scored four points in the victory, added that although leaving behind volleyball was difficult, she was helped by the fact that the team is super close and she will not lose touch with any of them. She shares the same sentiment for this San Marcos team.
“I knew that going into basketball, this team was going to be close as well so they’d be very welcoming even though I hadn’t been there in the preseason, which was helpful,” Day said.
Overall, Day was a key factor in a win that required a lot of tenacity, not just on the boards, but everywhere on the court. Her 10 rebounds certainly made a difference, especially with seven coming on the offensive glass leading to some second-chance points.
“I just don’t stop hustling no matter what the play. If I see the ball and there’s a chance to get the ball, I’m just going to go for it,” Day said.
“In my mind, I just want the ball. I want to score, I want to rebound, I just want to help my team in any way that I can.”
Overall, Day has been happy with the teams’ performance in the first two games of the season and with a holiday break coming up, there’s time to improve.
“Our key factor is our speed. We have to keep hustling and I think this intensity that we have right now we just need to keep it going throughout the whole season, we can’t let up,” Day said.
“Our hustle is our best quality and if we can keep that up, the other fundamentals will start to follow.”
The Royals led by just six at the break, and a quick basket by the Rams to start the second half cut that lead down to four.
Then, the full-court pressure defense San Marcos had been running the entire first half really started giving Cate some problems. The Royals stole the ball seven times within a three-minute span and extended its lead as much as 11 points.
Unofficially, San Marcos forced about 20 Cate turnovers.
“We are still learning it (the defense), it’s still early in the season and we are fine-tuning it. We just have to keep teaching and practicing, but we actually got to the right spots in that third and fourth quarter and it made the difference,” San Marcos coach Aaron Solis said.
Solis also noted the height advantage Cate — and really every school — will have against them, reinforcing that the team will have to work harder like they did tonight in order to see positive outcomes.
“We’re so small, we have to be able to do that (play tough). When 80% of our team is my height or less it’s a struggle, but it’s like we tell them, if they’re taller you just have to play harder. Tonight we did,” Solis said.
Sophomore point guard Ariel Plourde was very effective on Thursday, leading the Royals in scoring with 14 points thanks to her quick dash to the basket, helping her score some tough layups and draw a pair of fouls.
She also tallied one-three point basket and was 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.
No other Royal was in double-figures, but eight different athletes scored on the day.
San Marcos’ tough defense in the third quarter gave them a 43-32 lead heading into the final frame and the Royals allowed just three points, all from the free-throw line, to come away with the win.
“That pressure is definitely something that, coming into our first game, is hard to handle especially throughout the entire game, but it will really pay off for us in the end in league and hopefully in the playoffs,” Cate’s Maya Blattberg said.
Blattberg played a great game for Cate, leading all scorers with 17 points. Her toughness allowed her to finish through contact and earn three and-1 opportunities. She was 6-for-14 from the field and 5-for-8 from the free-throw line adding four rebounds and an assist.
Thursday marked the season opener for Cate, and although it resulted in a loss, coach Laura Moore was still pleased with the teams’ performance.
“I thought they (Cate) played fearlessly and coming out we knew that they (San Marcos) would press the whole game, and we had composure for the most part, especially in the first half and immediately in the first parts of the game and that’s a positive as that pressure has been our Achilles heel,” Moore said.
With a few weeks off before the next game, Moore emphasized that the team’s focus will really be on getting in better basketball shape before the next tip. That coupled with the fact the team should get a pair of players after cross country season ends have the Rams in high hopes.
“When we got fatigued, we had a tendency to make mistakes so we really feel we just have to do a better job of getting in shape because we did handle the press well but when we were fatigued, we weren’t ourselves,” Moore said.
“And with our guards coming back, it’ll be nice to have a more balanced offense.”