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The Six Amigas

Posted: February 10, 2008 5:20 a.m.
Updated: April 12, 2008 2:01 a.m.
 
There were times during the 2007-08 basketball season that referees would walk up to fourth-year Canyon head freshman coach John Williams, look at his team and ask: "Is this all you've got?"

Yeah, this was it.
Count them - Dannay Rodriguez, Janae Schallert, Corina Vallesquez, Jessica Corino, Sara Ward and Jojo Delong - six players.
Williams is blunt about his three previous teams.
"I never had success," says the 26-year-old.
But Canyon varsity head basketball coach Stan Delus told him there would be something different about this group before the season tipped-off.
"Man, what does that mean? As in a couple more wins from last year?" Williams remembers asking.
Though still a young man, Williams doesn't remember his 2006-07 freshman team's record.
In the Foothill League, they went 3-7.
Overall?
"Uh ..." he says.
Maybe he doesn't want to remember.
But Delus was right about how different this team would be.
It started with game one against Newbury Park.
The "six amigas," as Williams calls them, didn't allow a point in the first half.
By the second quarter, he remembers his team being up 45-0.
"These girls really buy into that. They play stifling defense," he says. "It's almost to the point where I have to tell them to slow down. It's the fourth quarter and we're up and I have to tell them to stop pressing."
Needless to say, they beat Newbury Park.
They also beat 17 other teams en route to an 18-2 season.
The amigas, or Cowboys, went 10-0, winning the Foothill League title.
They scored 89 points in an 89-21 thrashing of Hart.
Average margin of victory?
Williams didn't have his stat book handy so he estimated.
"I would say probably about 55," he says.
He couldn't be that far off.
The former high school and junior college basketball player regularly called in his scores to The Signal.
His team would regularly be in the 70 to 80 range, and the opponent would have somewhere in the 20s.
So what's the explanation for this dominant machine's two losses?
Well, six players get tired every once in a while.
The Cowboys were a late entrant in the pre-league Harvard-Westlake Tournament.
The coach running the event asked if the Cowboys could play on both sides of the bracket.
Williams said, "Sure."
They needed the experience anyway.
So Canyon, playing two games a day at times, won one side of the bracket.
All it had to do was await the winner of the other side of the bracket for the championship game.
The semifinal matchup in that bracket?
Harvard Westlake versus, you've got it, Canyon.
The tournament decided to make that semifinal the championship game.
The Cowboys lost by one in overtime.
In the other loss, one of the amigas was brought up to the junior varsity team for a game because of a shortage of point guards, so Canyon played with five.
Williams says he usually only calls timeouts in games to give his girls rest. He hopes the other team calls timeouts to give his girls more rest.
So when Canyon played Peninsula, the opponents showed no mercy and called no timeouts in the whole contest.
Tired Canyon lost by single digits.
Williams says he never carries a big squad. The team started with eight players, but two dropped out of the program before the season started.
So the girls pulled together.
Sure, girls got sick or hurt, but they played through it.
They went through a ton of conditioning throughout the season to stay in shape for the 32 minutes of running up and down the nearly 90 feet of court each game.
It's not the coaching that made this team successful, Williams admits.
"It's definitely the players," he says. "Those are the girls. They were out there. They bought into the concept you provide."
The Canyon junior varsity coach surely will be happy to get this group next season.
By the way, Williams is also the JV head coach.

Cary Osborne is The Signal's sports editor. He can be reached at cosborne@the-signal.com. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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