The King/Drew girls basketball team came in second place in the Coliseum League (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The King/Drew girls’ basketball team had a 16-15 overall record and placed second in the Coliseum League with an 8-1 record.

“I think we’re a fast team, real good defensively. We’re working on our half-court offense,” said senior Sanaa Rose. “We’re a great pressing team as well, we have great communication.”

Their skills gave the Golden Eagles the fourth seed in the Open Division playoffs. A buzzer-beating shot by Kaitlin Johnson gave King/Drew a 52-53 win over the Birmingham Patriots in the first round.

“It was a lovely opportunity, I’m glad we were able to get this far,” said senior Andrea Hinton. “I’ve been here since my freshman year, us making a lot of progress is really something great to see.”

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Johnson called the buzzer-beater “a shot that [they} had to take.”

“It was 0.6, I was like get it in and get it out,” Johnson said.  “When you do big shots, you feel like you’re a hero.”

Playing in tournaments were an asset to the Golden Eagles, according to senior Kayona Carter. They battled several schools, including West and Santa Monica, during tournament play.

“It helped us get ready for our league games so we know what plays to do,” Carter said.

Those early games helped the team learn about rebounding and playing as a team.

“In our first tournament, we went 0-4,” said junior Anayla Anderson. “It was growth after that tournament … we knew what we needed to work on coming back into practice.”

This season allowed junior Elizabeth Atuseri a chance to improve her leadership skills.

“I’ve tried to speak up; if anybody is making a mistake, I try to correct them,” Atuseri said. “If anybody’s feeling down, I try to up their mood.”

Tournament play also showed what the squad needed to work on.

“We were starting off slow and then we gradually picked it up,” said junior Persia Washington. “We then gathered as a team … we did that by having team bondings, watching film.”

Junior Jaylah White noted how the team matured over the years.

“One of our key qualities is our defense,” White said. “We play really strong and hard defense.”

Their strong sense of teamwork happened not only during games, but during practice.

“We worked hard. Every practice, we made each other better, pushed each other,” said junior Christiauna Taylor. “We tried not to have attitudes because having attitudes affects the whole team.”

Junior Mildred Reyes mentioned how communication was a challenge early in the season.

“We weren’t communicating at first, not as much as we are now,” Reyes said. “We’re trying to get better at practice.”

The Golden Eagles’ team effort exposed sophomore Alexis Wallace to the benefits of playing unselfishly.

“You can always work with any team,” Wallace said. “You can do good things if yall work together.”

Kayla Drinkard noticed how her teammates challenged each other and helped each other to improve.

“They keep each other together,” Drinkard said. “Even if we’re in a lose-win situation, we never lose our humor, we keep our humor up.”