Cape Tech Girls Basketball Making Strides Despite Growing Pains

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: School Sports , Basketball

Cape Cod Tech junior Madison Saben-Hambleton looks to pass during Friday’s game against South Shore Vocational. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

HARWICH – While the measure of a team’s success can often be traced to the scoreboard and standings, Cape Cod Tech girls basketball coach Chris Leonard is keenly aware of what his team is up against this winter.

After missing out on last season completely due to COVID-19, the Crusaders are still making strides to return to full strength, a difficult but rewarding journey for a team comprised of mostly first-year varsity players.

Although the squad has experienced some growing pains, Leonard said he’s proud to see improvements being made as the season progresses.

“We’re definitely coming together and we’re definitely melding,” Leonard said Friday after the team suffered a 47-25 loss to visiting South Shore Vocational. “This was our third game of the week, so we really lost our legs.”

Even in defeat, Leonard and his players have been able to identify areas of their game that stood out.

Following Friday’s loss, the coach was pleased with his team’s defense, especially in the second and third quarters. The visiting Vikings burst to a 14-5 lead in the opening quarter before the Crusaders clamped down at the defensive end and eventually cut their deficit to 20-13 at halftime and then 26-18 by the end of the third quarter.

“The big thing for us was the way we stepped up defensively — at least up until the end when the girls started getting tired,” Leonard said. “They were shifting the correct way and dropping in the right spots. We only lost the third quarter by one point.”

Offensively, Cape Tech has relied on a pair of cousins, Jada Miranda and Lashae Miranda, both juniors from Harwich, to lead the scoring while junior forward Izzy Welsh is sidelined with an injury.

Both cousins chipped in seven points in Friday’s loss. Three days later, Jada finished with 14 points and Lashae added six of her own in the Crusaders’ 32-25 loss at Sturgis East.

There’s a clear connection between the cousins; Jada often handles the ball and then plays off of Lashae in the halfcourt. Whether they are finding one another with a pass as they cut through the defensive zone or play off each other during pick-and-roll plays, the Miranda cousins are most comfortable when they are on the court together.

“It’s good because I can rely on her and know that I can pass it to her,” Lashae said. “I know how she plays, so we’re good together.”

Jada agreed that the connection they share pays dividends for both of them.

“It definitely helps when you’re playing, knowing that you have someone you’re close with,” she said. “Having your teammates help you is really important, so just being able to get open and score has been good.”

Cape Tech fell to 5-5 on the season following Monday’s loss. Leonard said the key to building momentum and establishing a win streak is going to rely on the team’s conditioning and health.

Due to a number of cancellations throughout the first half of the season, the Crusaders will now play two or three games most weeks for the remainder of the season. Leonard isn’t looking for any excuses, though, and acknowledged the busy schedule is nothing new for those who choose to play hoops during the winter.

“It’s going to be two to three [games] per week all the way through,” he said. “This is just high school basketball — this is the way that it is in January and February, so the girls just have to get used to it.”

The players are getting used to the challenge of busy action-packed weeks, but there’s still a learning curve they are facing.

“It’s definitely difficult,” Lashae admitted. “You just need to eat, rest and be ready for the next game. It’s hard playing but it’s worth playing.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal