Each time an Albert Einstein Academy starting player exited the game in Wednesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinal game against Carnegie Schools of Riverside, she was met with roaring applause from the crowd.
While ending the season with a 61-34 loss to Carnegie at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley on Wednesday stung, it was overshadowed by revelations of how far the Rockets had come.
For the first time in program history, Einstein (14-9) had surpassed the first round of playoffs, making this year’s team the most successful ever.
“The first game we won for playoffs, it was like we already made history and then we won the second game and then this one was our last game,” said Einstein’s Keeli Javan. “We finished strong and it’s my senior year so I was really happy with how it came out.”
The Wolverines (16-3) overpowered the Rockets in the first quarter, rattling them by consistently driving to the net.
“It was really tough,” said Rocket Sam Sterba. “They were passing it so well and it was just hard to guard everything. They were everywhere.”
Carnegie’s efforts on offense were led by Kate Golovkina, who scored 27 points before exiting the game late in the third quarter.
“What I wanted to do was force them to shoot from the outside and pack it in,” said Rockets coach Scott Barker. “Once you’re down a few points, then you’re really trying to fix everything.”
Javan provided short bursts of energy by nailing three 3-pointers between the second and third quarters, building to the Rockets’ productive 13-point fourth quarter.
“I feel like we passed the ball around really well and everyone had a chance to share the ball, so I think that’s why we picked up the effort in the last quarter,” Sterba said.
Barker hopes that this year’s success will spur further growth for the program, which will lose six seniors to graduation.
“I would like for girls that haven’t played before to see how much fun these girls had and the excitement they generated and want to come out and play next year,” he said. “That’s the way you build a program.”