Given the suspension of athletics in the county, the Daily Journal decided to dive into our 20-year archives to bring readers some of our favorite stories over the years.
JAN. 12, 2017 — Two down, one to go for the Oceana girls’ basketball team. But that last one is going to be a doozy.
When the Lady Sharks (2-0 in PAL North, 11-1 overall) got their first look at their 2016-17 schedule, the first thing that jumped off the page was the opening week of Peninsula Athletic League North Division play — three games in four nights against some steep competition.
With a runaway 56-39 win at Westmoor, the Sharks are sitting pretty with their second straight win to open league play. But their biggest test comes Friday in travelling to reigning league champion South City.
“Everything is going good right now,” Oceana senior Sala Langi said. “We’re at 2-0 right now, trying to get 3-0 Friday.”
South City, also firing on all cylinders these days, is going to be one tough test. But if Oceana plays as flawlessly as it did Wednesday, the showdown, regardless of the outcome, stands to be as entertaining a game the PAL will see this season.
“I think we played the way that we wanted to play,” Oceana head coach David Clark said of Wednesday’s win. “We pretty much played our style of basketball. I think execution wise we pretty much did what we wanted to do. We wanted to push the ball and try to get some fast-break points.”
Langi was the driving force of an Oceana team that is chock full of dangerous weapons. The senior point guard scored a game-high 19 points, all of which came through the first three quarters as a big lead allowed Clark to sit his starters through the final period.
Playing the point is a new role for Langi, who mostly played forward last season. She has always been one of the most adept ball handlers on the team, but her 5-7 stature makes her one of Oceana’s tallest players. During last season’s postseason run, however — advancing to the Central Coast Section Division IV semifinals for the first time in program history — Clark relied more and more on Langi to run the point.
Now, the senior brings something of a Draymond Green mystique to the floor, being able to run the offense from the point despite being one of the team’s most effective post players.
“Because she’s a bigger guard, her court vision is a lot better,” Clark said. “So I decided to make that switch this year because the girl that had been playing our point is actually one of our best shooters.”
Oceana’s former fulltime point guard, senior Keri La, has certainly benefitted from her new role as a flex guard. She still shares time at the point, but she is most dangerous when she is free to fly around to utilize her rangy shooting ability.
La was effective from various shooting perspectives Wednesday, racking up 15 points in the process. She gave the Sharks their first lead early in the opening quarter with a nice step and drive. She also added a pair of 3-pointers, including a long bomb from seven feet back of the arc in the third quarter. And from the free-throw line, she was a perfect 7 of 7.
With the superstar charisma of Langi, and Oceana’s best 3-point shooter, junior Arianna Margate, always a danger, La has emerged as something of a secret weapon in her new role.
“She definitely is,” Clark said. “And I think last year, because she was playing that point guard, she was using so much energy to bring the ball up we didn’t really get to utilize her shooting ability.”
It was actually La and Margate who set the tone in the first period Wednesday. The Sharks came out bombing, hitting 3 of 6 from beyond the arc — two by Margate and one by La to give Oceana a commanding 20-9 lead by the end of the opening quarter.
Then Langi took over. Oceana shot 36.5 percent from the field throughout, including a sturdy 5 of 12 in the second quarter. All five of those shots were converted by Langi, who could do no wrong through those eight minutes.
Langi opened the quarter with a display of strength and footwork on a sweet post-up. She then converted back-to-back transition buckets on a pair of rare Westmoor turnovers.
Then, to close the half, Langi took aim from 3-point land and bull’s-eyed a beautiful swish to beat the buzzer, giving the Sharks a 35-14 advantage.
That Westmoor found itself in such a hole is testament to how good Oceana played. The Rams shored up their ball control after a turnover plagued non-league loss to Terra Nova last week. Wednesday, they committed just 10 turnovers throughout.
“Today I think we took care of the ball more than we had,” Westmoor senior Sabrina Tan said. “Last game we had like over 20 turnovers. So, this game I think we did a lot better taking care of the ball.”
Oceana’s swarming post defense had Westmoor out of sorts in the shooting department though. The Rams shot just 26.6 percent from the field and couldn’t get anything past Oceana senior center Kyana Wiley, who notched all of her five blocked shots in the second half, including four in the third quarter.
“It was definitely a tough loss but you can’t underestimate [Oceana],” Tan said. “They’re a good team. They have really solid players. Handling the ball, scoring the ball, they have good post players. I think we have to take this game and just play them better next time.”
Tan finished the night with a team-high 13 points and matched Wiley with a game-high eight rebounds. Margate totaled nine points for the Rams, all coming on 3-pointers.