The Bears met the Gators for the second time in just two games after their first meeting on December 30. This first win came during the championship game at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic as they bested the Gators 52-30. The second non-conference game of the two, ended in a similar result as the Bears routed Sacred Heart Prep (SHP) 73-41 on Thursday, December 5.

Melanie Murphy, the coach for the Gators, squared off against Coach Markisha Coleman for M-A, making it a very interesting rematch as they both played basketball at Stanford.

As the game progressed, M-A’s depth proved to be too much. Coleman stated, “I felt okay. We are 10-1 and I think the girls are playing hard. I feel like when we talked at halftime they are able to make the necessary adjustments. We are excited for league to start.”

M-A started off poorly in its second-to-last game before the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) regular season due to several poor fouls that allowed SHP to move out to an early lead.

The Bears took a 15-13 lead heading into the second quarter but struggled to guard SHP freshman Charlotte Levison, a deadly three-point shooter for the Gators.

The Bears held onto their lead due to the spectacular play of sisters Mele and Stella Kailahi, both of whom came off the bench. Star player Greer Hoyem was limited to under 10 points during the first half due to constant SHP double-teams and the length of the Gators defense.

M-A celebrates its first win over SHP by claiming the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic title.

M-A struggled to execute its zone defense in the first half, but quickly switched to man-to-man to start the second half in order to slow down Levison and others. This decision turned out to be an extremely smart move as the Gators scored only six points in the third, giving the Bears a 19 point lead.

At the half, Coleman told her players, “Sacred Heart did a great job of driving and their post players were getting deep so we have to be able to guard one-on-one.”

Ilana Baer’s solid passing allowed the Bears free looks at the rim leading to several three-pointers. Threes made by M. Kailahi, S. Kailahi, and Carly McLanahan allowed the Bears to shut down the loud SHP student section and blow out the Gators.

Although their offensive effort was one of the best of the season, Coleman believes that their defense was the deciding factor: “At halftime, I told them that you guys need to be committed to playing defense. I think they did that and in the second half we didn’t have to play zone at all.”

After this stellar 73-41 performance, the Bears play their last non-conference game on January 7 at M-A against Half Moon Bay. This should be a very exciting game for this Bears as the court at Ayers Gym was just recently named after Pam Wimberley in honor of her incredible coaching and teaching career at M-A. Go Bears!

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