The Los Altos High girls basketball team entered this week having won 13 consecutive games, surely the program’s longest such streak in decades. The Eagles (15-3 overall) haven’t lost since Dec. 10.
Is there a secret to their winning ways?
A close examination of the game stats during this run reveals few common threads. They have scored as many as 65 points and as few as 36, shooting from 21 to 46 percent. Los Altos has survived committing 24 turnovers – twice – and made at least 15 steals in six of these games.
One constant: The Eagles have soared in the second half. In all 13 games, they outscored their opponent after halftime – by a combined 147 points.
“The second half seems to be our half,” first-year head coach Jaclyn Brode said. “We get down early and fight back. We’re the comeback kids.”
The coach attributes Los Altos’ second-half success to “conditioning and offseason work.” When opposing teams tire late in games, the Eagles continue to pressure the ball, grab rebounds and pursue loose balls with vigor.
“We’re able to wear teams down in the third quarter,” Brode said, “and we’re outlasting them.”
That’s how Los Altos beat Saratoga in a key Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division game Jan. 17. Down 14 in the third quarter, the Eagles rallied for a 43-40 road win.
“I’m sure Saratoga wants revenge – they probably feel they gave that one up,” said Brode, whose team outscored the Falcons 14-6 in the fourth period. “The rematch is going to be an absolute dogfight.”
The rematch is scheduled 6:15 p.m. Friday at Los Altos. The Eagles lead the division with a 6-0 record; Saratoga is second at 5-1.
With a win, Los Altos puts itself in prime position to claim the division title.
“That’s our goal,” Brode said.
It’s safe to assume the Eagles won’t shoot their way to this goal. Their field-goal percentage for the season is just 31 percent.
“We’re not a good shooting team,” Brode said. “We’re better on defense – we key on getting stops and (expect that) the ball will eventually fall into the hoop.”
Post player Meghan McDermott is the lone Los Altos player averaging double-digit points (13.1) and also tops the team in rebounds per game (10.4). She scored a team-high 13 points in last week’s 45-33 home win over Cupertino.
“It all starts and ends with Meghan – she’s our superstar,” Brode said of the 5-foot-9 senior. “She does whatever it takes to help us win.”
A pair of sophomores rank second and third on the team in scoring – guard Katie Munro (7.9) and forward Meg Enthoven (7.6).
“Meg is so physical and is all over the court,” Brode said. “Katie is coming along – she’s a heady player.”
The coach also praised point guard Kelly Hamamoto, whom she said “plays ridiculous defense.” The senior averages nearly six steals per game.
Then there’s junior guard Rebecca Andrews, who is playing soccer in the same season. A “pesky defender,” according to Brode, Andrews last month scored two goals for the Los Altos soccer squad and 12 for the basketball team on the same day.
With players like this, no wonder Brode relishes her job.
“Every day I wait for practice – I love it,” she said. “The girls enjoy each other and have bought in to what we’re trying to do. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my first year.”