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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Wildcats win four girls basketball games


Last updated 7/29/2019 at 8:16am

The Sullivan Middle School team of 10 huddles for a group shot after an impressive win at home; from left, Annie Riley, Sawyer Jones, Alexis Jones, Payton Wilson, Grace Gabaldon, Lily Rosales, Claire Nordeen, Tatum McLaughlin, Bella Rosario and Maya Papoulias.

A 4-9 season record doesn't look impressive on the surface, especially when the final seven games of the season were losses, but in the case of the Sullivan Middle School girls basketball team that record means that the Wildcats had four more wins than last year.

"We didn't win a game last year," Sullivan coach Jeff White said. "This year was a big step up."

Not only did the Wildcats not win a game in 2018, but only two of those players returned to the 2019 varsity squad. Maya Papoulias was in seventh grade in 2018 and was an eighth-grader this year, and Claire Nordeen was in sixth grade last year and was in seventh grade for the 2019 season. This year's varsity had 10 players; eight of those were in eighth grade while two were seventh-graders.

The games consisted of four seven-minute quarters. The Wildcats opened their season with a 39-5 win over Calvin Christian.

"That was really exciting," White said.

One of Sullivan's other victories was against Valley Center Middle School; the Wildcats turned a 13-5 deficit into a 27-18 triumph.

"We had a successful season. We fought really hard. We played almost all bigger schools," White said.

In many cases the other schools had not only larger enrollments but also taller players.

"We were usually outsized by the other schools," White said.

That didn't stop the Wildcats from being competitive.

"They were all close games," White said. "They played well.

Title of picture file "Girls Defense" Caption: Grace Gabaldon & Maya Papoulias are applying a full court press defense to shut the opponent down.

"They hustled and we even had a lead in most of those games. We just couldn't hold on to it. We hung in there against some really good San Marcos schools. We just lost a lot of really close games," he said.

Papoulias and eighth-grader Grace Gabaldon were the two starting guards.

"They were both really aggressive," White said.

Papoulias was the team's leading scorer. Nordeen, who played as a forward, was Sullivan's leading rebounder.

"It was our best girls team in several years," White said. "Our offense was much better than last year. They worked a lot on their shooting and their trapping."

The Wildcats also improved on the other end of the court.

"We really emphasized getting steals on defense," White said. "They were really good at that."

White said he doesn't judge this year's team by the Wildcats' win-loss record.

"They were really aggressive. They never quit. They never slowed down," he said. "I was really proud of how they played."


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