Sharks hoping to hone their game in Hawaii over the holidays

Anmol Mattu and her Steveston-London Sharks teammates are scheduled to play four exhibition games in Hawaii during their winter vacation. - Don Fennell photo
Anmol Mattu and her Steveston-London Sharks teammates are scheduled to play four exhibition games in Hawaii during their winter vacation.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

The Steveston-London Sharks plan to head to Hawaii on Boxing Day for a little rest and relaxation.

It may be just the tonic the high school senior girls’ basketball team needs after a less than impressive first month of the season.

Though the Pacific islands are a new destination—in place of alternating between Los Angeles and Las Vegas—the nine-day excursion is an annual tradition that coach Les Hamaguchi began in the early 1990s when he coached at Richmond High.

“I always believe you come back a more cohesive group after sharing this kind of team bonding,” said Hamaguchi, who has also arranged four exhibition games against Hawaiian clubs during the trip.

While the Sharks are playing decent basketball, it is nowhere near the level Hamaguchi believes they’re capable of. There are many possible reasons, but foremost is the lack of balanced scoring.

Grade 12 point guard Anmol Mattu, who has been playing senior basketball since Grade 8, is one of the best players at her position in the province. But she can’t do it alone.

“If we solely rely on her we’re not going as far as I’d hope,” said Hamaguchi. “We need balanced scoring. She’s the catalyst but if we have her scoring 30 or 40 points a night we’re probably not going to win.”

The key, Hamaguchi added, is to take better advantage of her potential to score, but more importantly to distribute the ball—especially when she is struggling to score herself.

Aliya Prasad scored six threes off feeds from Mattu during a 68-50 league win over the A.R. MacNeill Ravens last week, but the Sharks are missing too many inside shots.

“We’re not getting enough scoring in the paint and while I understand we’re not very big, we have to find different ways to get more production from our forwards,” Hamaguchi said. “And on the defensive side we have to be more aggressive to get rebounds (so as to) handle the bigger teams.”

But Hamguchi is optimistic. He looks at the first 10 games as a foundation on which to build and expects the Sharks to play with more confidence and proficiency in the new year as they ramp up for the playoffs.

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