APTOS—It took two weeks for Aptos High junior Jaylen Dang and the rest of the girls basketball team to get back into action after quarantining due to Covid-19 testing results.
The junior guard picked up right where she left off, scoring a team-high 13 points and leading the Mariners to a 44-32 win against Monte Vista Christian in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play on Friday.
“We were excited. We wanted this game,” Dang said. “A two-week break was our motivation.”
Both the girls and boys programs paused all basketball activities on April 17 to quarantine for 14 days, the recommended time a person who tests positive or is possibly exposed to someone with Covid-19 should stay home, according to Cal/OSHA Covid-19 guidelines.
They were allowed to return to practice on Thursday, but both programs missed five games on their 2021 league schedules.
Aptos coach Bruce Funk kept the team together by hosting daily Zoom meetings. The meetings included workouts, film study and game planning.
The transition from meeting in person to meeting on a computer was no big deal, Funk said, for the Mariners players after doing it last year during the shelter-in-place order. It was having to stop after a 2-0 start and two weeks of practice that was much harder on them this time around, Funk said.
“We’re in top shape and ready to go, and then it was just a total shutdown,” he said.
During the pause Dang kept busy with Peloton workouts five days a week. She said they overcame the quarantine by trying to maximize their time, which included film study on MVC.
“We played as hard as we could,” she said. “We weren’t going to let our pace go down.”
Dang mentioned that the biggest difference of having to “distance practice” this time was that each player is on different schedules, including those who have opted to go back to school or stay at home.
“I was shooting and trying to get my shot for the game so I can be prepared,” she said.
Funk said he took notice how much Dang had improved prior to starting this Covid-19 shortened season. That included stepping into more of a leadership role and consistently hitting most of her shots on the court.
The second-year coach added that it’s also been great seeing Dang work in sync with fellow teammate Jasmine Ackerman, who has been the Mariners’ rebound machine this season.
“Jasmine can get the rebound and take off as the point guard, which then allows Jaylen to fill the wing and shoot so quick,” he said. “We’re able to rebound and go, and that’s great.”
Aptos (3-0) exploded for 35 points in the first half led by Dang with 13, including a buzzer beater to end the second quarter.
But, the signs of not playing a live game for two weeks showed in the second half. The Mariners began to fall short on some of their shots and they committed several turnovers.
They scored nine points combined in both the third and fourth quarters—including just two points in the final stanza.
Ackerman, a junior, scored seven of her nine points in the second half to keep the Mariners ahead. She racked up 21 rebounds, including 17 on the defensive end, and recorded five assists.
Funk said they had a rough time offensively in that second half but the defensive unit tightened up, which allowed them to still extend their lead.
“The girls came out strong and they were a little winded in the second half, but they prevailed,” Funk said. “It’s good to get that first one out of the way.”
Aptos junior Grace Parry recorded 12 points and eight rebounds, and junior Erin Schmidt contributed four points and four rebounds for the Mariners, who play at Santa Cruz High on Monday at 5pm.
MVC junior Marissa Cortes scored a game-high 14 points; while junior Paloma Ramirez contributed six points. Seniors Mackanzie Tellez and Sophie Allen each had four points for the Mustangs (2-3), who will host Watsonville High on Wednesday at 5pm.