Alondra Sanchez is one of a handful of newcomers who have stepped up for the Lynn Tech this season.
By KATIE MORRISON
The last few years have not been easy for the Lynn Tech girls basketball team.
Tech hasn’t reached the tournament since the 2007-08 season, when the Tigers went 11-5 in the regular season and were knocked out in the first round. That ended the run of success Tech enjoyed during the mid-2000s under coach John Crowley, who led the Tigers to four straight Commonwealth Conference Small titles.
So, it’s been a long road for the Tigers, a team that won just three games last year. Prior to the start of this season, coach Kaitlyn Wechsler said their goal was to win 10 games, which should propel the Tigers into the state tournament for the first time in nine years.
Those goals seemed lofty after a few tough campaigns for Tech. But through 11 games, a tournament berth doesn’t seem like an unreachable goal anymore.
The Tigers won three games in a row to reach the .500 mark Monday, but fell to Shawsheen Tuesday to drop back to 5-6. With seven games left on the schedule, the Tigers will need to play well to reach 10 wins, but Wechsler is seeing her team finally click and play to its capabilities.
“We have some young girls, and they really didn’t know the other girls,” Wechsler said. “But we’re halfway through the season now, and they’re getting a feel for their position on the court and how they interact with the seniors that we have, so I think they’re just getting to know the way each other plays, and being able to read each other out on the court now since they’ve been playing together for half a season.”
One part of the puzzle is a group of strong seniors, many of whom have been with Wechsler for four years. It’s a group she knows well and that she has seen grow throughout their high school careers. Obviously, Wechsler is hoping this is the year things come together for the core group.
“There’s five (seniors), and they’re the core group really, although they’re not our core offense this year, they’re our defense,” Wechsler said. “They run our defense and lead us by example, by rebounding, by putting in hard work, and those girls, they look up to them. They’re the glue for us.”
What might be the key factor in the Tigers’ success is an infusion of young talent. Freshman Alondra Sanchez has been a playmaker for Tech in her first season, and has provided a shot in the arm on offense, something previous Tech teams have sorely lacked.
“She’s definitely tough, and she’s brought a lot to the team, especially on offense,” Wechsler said. “She’s brought a scoring presence that we haven’t really had the past couple of years. She’s also a tough matchup, she’s tough to guard, she’s big and strong, and it’s hard for other teams to match up against her. Again, it’s something we haven’t really had in the past.
Sanchez, who played football on Tech’s JV team in the fall, has taken over as point guard. She’s an imposing presence when she drives to the basket, and is able to draw a lot of fouls as she goes to the hoop. Sanchez’s play can be kind of rough around the edges, but that’s to be expected for a freshman, of course. To her credit, she brings an injection of energy to the team that’s definitely made an impact.
There’s also freshman Arianna Anaya, who is also an offensive threat for the Tigers. While Sanchez is a threat in the paint primarily, Anaya is a strong outside shooter.
“She’s also scoring, which is something we’ve struggled with,” Wechsler said of Anaya. “Our seniors are great on defense and with leadership, but offense has been a problem. Ari has a great shot, she’s confident in looking to shoot the ball, she’s hit a lot of threes for us this year, gets to the line and hits her fouls shots.”
The Tigers are looking to bounce back from a tough loss Tuesday, but have winnable games coming up. They also showed bright spots in the loss, holding Shawsheen scoreless through long stretches (though Tech was unable to capitalize offensively, which was the Tigers’ downfall Tuesday).
So keep an eye on the Tigers. Things look to be coming together for the Tech girls.
Katie Morrison can be reached at email@example.com.