Walking into Sean Elliot Gym can be mystifying to some young athletes. The hardwood is authentic. The stands are bright orange and blue. The banners surrounding the court remind all visitors that quality basketball is one with Cholla Magnet Basketball. It would take a Herculean effort on the part of Head Coach Jennifer Meza and Assistant Coach Benjaline Medlock to take on this year’s Cholla Charger Team.
The fierce, five senior starters for Walden Grove are a battle-tested group. Alex McGraw, Lexi Mohler, Mariana Gamillo, Khara Gude, and newcomer Rio Hidaka are the only seniors in the Walden Grove program. “They are the heart and soul of our team. We win when they play well and we lose when they don’t” recalls Coach Meza.
The rest of team is an electric set of sophomores in the form of Ryan Gilvin and Jackie Gonzalez. The team boasts no juniors. The end of the depth chart includes three incoming freshmen: Brandy Quintana, Victoria Palacios, and Bryanna Vaca. It would have to be this squad that would take on a high quality Cholla Magnet.
The first quarter was as tough as any quarter that the Walden Grove has had this year. Falling quickly behind to Cholla Magnet 18-5. The Red Wolves would win the rebounding differential in the first quarter but could not keep up with the physicality of Cholla.
A strong second quarter for Walden Grove brought them to within twelve points. Led by Senior standout, Alexandra McGraw, and her two 3-pointers. She would add two more from the charity stripe as the Red Wolves would go into halftime down 16-28. By half, the Red Wolves had left a number of chances at the free throw line going 2-12 from the stripe. “We had our chances and did not capitalize on it” said assistant coach Medlock. “You can bet that we will be working on that this weekend.”
Coming out of half, the young Red Wolves roster would lean on its veteran leadership. Lexi Mohler would get four of her eight points in the third quarter. “We struggled controlling their stars” said Coach Meza. She was right. Three of Cholla’s players accounted for 35 of their total 45.
The fourth quarter was lackluster for Walden Grove; only scoring 1 point in its entirety. “A lot of our younger talent saw quality time against a really good Cholla team” recalled Coach Meza. “By having those girls get value minutes like that against good teams will only make us better in the future.”
Walden Grove would go on to lose by a total of 23-45.
The games slated for Walden Grove Varsity Girls Basketball will be against Pusch Ridge Academy, Sabino High School and Desert View High School.