Sports
July 6, 2020
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Getting better all the time

  • Lady Titan Kayli Worden is seen laying the ball up on a fast break with Calistoga's Litzy Infante in pursuit. Kayli, the lone senior on the team, was on fire during her last basketball game for Technology High. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Joshua Farestveit-Moore
February 15, 2019

The Tech High Titans closed out their season with a loss, 62-32, against the Calistoga Wildcats Thurs., Feb. 7 in a home game held at Tech Middle School. 

Despite the loss, this game was an improvement for the Titans. The last time they went up against the Wildcats in Jan. the score looked a bit different—52-0 kind of different. To go from a complete washout only to come back at the end of the season with their highest scoring game of the year is a remarkable feat. 

This is on top of the Titans’ performance last year, which, due to a shortage of players and numerous injuries, couldn’t field a full team and forfeited half their league games. According to the Titans’ coach, Carlos Vasquez Jr., they’re rebuilding the team. He’s proud of his girls and the progress they’ve made. 

“We don’t talk about wins or losses,” Vasquez said. “We talk about getting better each day and building from that day—believing in each other. I believe in them. I just want them to build confidence in each other.”

But experience counts for a lot and the Wildcats certainly had more of it. They leveraged that advantage into a significant lead when Tully Leonard caught the rebound off her team’s missed three-pointer. 

Leonard stood just beneath the basket. In the mad scramble for 

the ball, her fingers rose above the Titans around her, snatching it away. Before she even hit the ground, Leonard launched a shot. This one, too, missed, but it rolled along the rim, which gave Leonard just enough time to get into position for the next rebound. 

Twice Leonard missed and twice she got her own rebound. On the third attempt she finally sank the basket. 

Yet the Titans had a secret weapon: Kayli Worden. 

When the Titans struggled to get near the basket, Worden carried them closer. When the Wildcats pushed an offensive, Worden stepped in to put a stop to it. And when the game looked the darkest, Worden patted her team on the back and urged them forward. 

She intercepted a pass at the mid court line between the Wildcats’ Jimena Guerrero and Litzy Infante. The move caught the Wildcats by surprise. Their defense stumbled and were slow to respond, but Worden didn’t wait around for them to figure things out. She rushed the basket. Two Wildcats broke off in pursuit. They were too slow. 

Worden went for the layup and sank it easily, shrinking the difference between the two teams by just little bit. 

It’s definitely a growing season. A lot of the girls are young. Last year we only had five players—there was barely a team last year,” Worden said. “We still show up to every game, we show up to every practice, and even though we know the outcome pretty often, we’re still here. We’re still trying.”

That wasn’t the only basket Worden scored. Everything told, she pulled in 23 of the Titans’ 32 total points. 

Yet Worden wasn’t the only Titan working that game. She meshed well with her teammate, Annie Brassfield. Now it’s obvious that Brassfield is new, much like the rest of her team, to varsity basketball, but she makes up for that lack of experience with an innate physicality that lent her dominance on the court. 

She put that trait to good use when Worden intercepted another pass between the Wildcats. By the second half the Wildcats learned to treat Worden as a threat. They covered her with defenders, making it difficult for Worden to pierce their defensive shell alone. So she didn’t. 

Worden passed to Brassfield who stood uncovered.

Brassfield tried to push forward but the Wildcats martialed their defenses and she couldn’t get through. She fell back. The retreat created a gap between Brassfield and the defender, but the Wildcat hesitated, unsure whether to maintain her position or continue coverage. Brassfield took full advantage. She lined up and launched a shot over the fingertips of the scrambling defender. It sailed in a smooth arc and sank for three. 

“They got a lot better. It was fun to go against them,” Wildcats’ assistant coach, Ray Particelli, said. “We’ve all coached that side of the floor as well. On a tough year the fact that they’re still improving and the fact that they’re excited about playing is always a good sign for a program.”