Santa Clarita Christian girls basketball has been on an upward slope.
Three years ago, coach Dennis Schwesinger started Cardinals girls basketball back up after the program had taken a short hiatus.
This year, the team finally has some experience under its belt, especially after last season’s postseason run that ended in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A tournament.
“We’ve been building it since a group of freshmen that came in,” said Schwesinger. “Since then, we’ve been building from the seasons they’ve had to take a legitimate shot at competing in the league that we’re in.”
Last year, the Cards (currently 4-0) finished third in league with a 4-4 record, falling to Faith Baptist and Trinity Classical Academy two times a piece.
“We want to try our best to improve our ranking in league,” said Payton Schwesinger. “Last year we lost to Trinity and Faith, so this year those are teams that we want to really work hard to play our best against.”
With an eight-player roster, SCCS has its work cut out for itself.
Conditioning is a priority for the team, which has a lot of players coming off of volleyball season. The goal is to have a fast-break offense that matches up with the speed of other Heritage League teams.
“We have to be a really conditioned team to be able to compete,” Dennis said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure they can stay on the court the whole game.”
Payton, Kaleigh Moss and Aaronya Crosswhite will be three of the top scorers for the Cardinals this season, with Payton taking care of driving to the net with Moss and Crosswhite focusing on outside shooting.
“We all are very different,” said Crosswhite. “We have people who can shoot all around, the points are spread out pretty easily and we have really good defenders. Even though we’re small … There’s not one person who doesn’t do something for us.”
SCCS has seven returners and all five starters returning from last season. The talent doesn’t lean one way or the other when it comes to year, either, with an even mix of upper- and underclassmen.
“It’s a little bit more together this year. (It’s an advantage) starting this year and just having the advantage of having back players and knowing the systems a little better,” Dennis Schwesinger said. “So far that’s what’s paid off for us. The experience from last year, them playing together, and their camaraderie.”
There’s strong chemistry across the team, making for an unselfish style of play and a smoother path to accomplishing tasks during games.
“We all want to play for each other and not just for ourselves, so just passing the ball to each other is easier,” Crosswhite said.
“Even if we’re down, we just want to work together, and I think that’s our main goal. Since we work (well) together, I think that’s going to be how we win games this year.”