The Crenshaw Girls Basketball team (7-9 overall, 2-0 Coliseum League) is in Division II, along with Jefferson, Hamilton and Dorsey high schools. Six players have returned to the program from the past season. Last year, the Cougars earned the eighth seed in the 2015 Los Angeles City Section Division I Playoffs. However, they lost to Van Nuys 42-48 in the first round.
This is the Cougars’ second season with head coach Valerie Agee. Agee coached Junior Varsity for Crenshaw prior to taking the helm as Varsity head coach. Seniors Armanie Pollard and Tyne White are the Co-captains of the team this season.
“As a captain, there’s a responsibility when your coach is not there to keep the team in line to let them know what it is they need to do,” said Pollard.
Coliseum League play began in January, they beat Augustus Hawkins Hawks (8-2 overall, 3-1 Coliseum League) with only five qualified players.
“We had to play the whole game, no subs or nothing,” said White. “We ended up winning, we beat them by six.”
Crenshaw then traveled to Locke High School to vanquish the Saints (1-3 overall, 1-3 Coliseum League) 53-28, according to Max Preps.
The Cougars started their season with a 41-63 loss from Thousand Oaks (11-9 overall, 2-1 in the Marmonte League).
Over the winter break, the basketball team participated in tournaments. Crenshaw faced Harvard-Westlake (13-5 overall, 1-1 Mission League) who is ranked 21st in the state, but lost 10-70. In January, they played against Centennial (11-7 overall, 2-0 Big VIII League), a team who is 123rd in the nation. Crenshaw also lost 26-70, according to Max Preps.
“Even though we’ve played games where we’ve been blown out–because I don’t have a problem with that–I condition them to be internally uplifted,” said Agee. “We played top state teams and we’ve held them to 70 points or 40 points or 50 points.”
As the Cougars continued participating in tournaments, their game play began to improve.
“At the beginning, she had put us in a couple of tournaments against some top teams and we were like trying to get the feel of it and started playing as a team,” said White. “We ended up being in another tournament recently during break and we ended up getting second place and we got a trophy.”
Academics is the focus of the Cougars, if a player did not have a high enough grade point average (GPA), they could not make the team. Currently, the team nears a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
“I want to develop student athletes as opposed to the other way around,” said Agee.
The players drive for the game is an inspiration to Agee.
“They kept wanting to practice,” said Agee. “I got excited when they wanted to continue to practice, so I just kept going.”
Crenshaw has a range of experience; some students had been playing for years while others learned after joining the team. Learning Defensive principles was something that newer players quickly understood.
“This year, we have the same squad, but the difference is the two new people or the three new people that we have to incorporate in our routines that we already know,” said Pollard. “We have to catch them up to speed with plays that we already know and with new stuff, learning them and how they play so that we could play together.”
Playing basketball has helped the students off the court as well, helping them conquer the fear of embarrassment, according to Agee.
“It’s really great to watch them grow and develop and look at basketball, like it teaches them life lessons,” said Agee. “We’ve overcome some low self-esteem issues.”