By Riley Segal
Assoc. Sports Editor
Photo by Matt Scholtz
The upcoming season has ushered in change for the varsity girls’ basketball team. A new coach, a new CIF division, and several new players contribute to this transition into the 2016-2017 season. However, one aspect that has not changed is the team’s high expectations for this year and the resolute mentality that the returning varsity players carry.
Despite former coach Tammy Lai—the program’s most successful coach in school history—stepping down, the team is confident that new coach Cody Masden will help carry on the tradition of high achievement. Masden was the JV coach for South Pas, and the squad hopes that his prior experience with the Tigers’ dynamic and players will help build a strong team.
“It’s great that our new coach was the past one for JV because he knows how our program works and what we expect to gain from our season,” senior Jalynne Li said. “Not only that, but he expects nothing less as well.”
The team lost Kristen Kafkaloff, South Pas’ top scorer, to graduation while Kiana Reynolds moved schools. Captains Li and senior Juliana Tom are expected to lead the team this year, Li having made varsity as a freshman and Tom being a top scorer last year. Junior Tiffany Holmes will direct the defense, while sophomore Lauren Kafkaloff will act as the Tigers’ adaptable post threat.
The girls are confident that their first string will be able to produce strong results as the starting five will all be returning varsity members. The players that moved up from junior varsity also bring another layer of offensive versatility to the team. However, the Tigers will need to improve on their communication as almost half the team is new.
Additionally, South Pas has moved up to Division 2A in CIF from Division 3, which will provide tougher competition in postseason play.
“We want to make it to CIF and go as far as we can to show that even though we aren’t the biggest or strongest, we pose an enormous threat to other teams,” Holmes said. “We work six days a week, sometimes with three hour practices in order to get as much time as we can in the gym to achieve these goals.”
The Tigers’ first official game is against Mark Keppel at South El Monte High School on Saturday, November 26 as part of the Mark Keppel-South El Monte Tournament.