The youth movement in Malibu High School girls hoops tipped off this summer.
Graduated are the seasoned players that led the Sharks to back-to-back playoff appearances; heading into the 2016-17 basketball season, Malibu has only one senior party and a bevy of underclassmen.
Sharks coach Andy Meyer said the team includes a few returning sophomores and seven rising high school freshmen.
“The eighth-graders have some experience, since they played on a travel team together,” he said. “Overall, we are really young.”
The young basketball team had its first taste of court action last month in a freshman-sophomore basketball league at Moorpark High School. While the team’s lone upperclassmen, Sophie Beauvoir, played with a travel ball team, the young Sharks posted a 3-2 record in the five-week league.
Meyer said Beauvoir’s participation with the travel ball team allowed her teammates to compete against girls their own age.
“I didn’t want all these eighth graders to go against bigger, stronger, faster girls yet,” he said. “I wanted to ease them into high school basketball.”
Malibu had one game and one practice each week during the league. Meyer said the Sharks improved.
“They know what to expect from me,” the coach said of his squad. “I’m learning how they can play. It was nice for me to see what we can do.”
One league highlight for Malibu was defeating Westlake by 20 points in their third game. The victory avenged the loss the Sharks suffered to Westlake in the first game of the summer.
Meyer said Erin Muldoon, Malibu’s point guard, was impressive in the league.
“She sees the court just as well as any longtime high school player,” he said.
The Sharks summer squad also included Pip Goudzwaard, Grace Stickney-Prakasim, Joy Bonewitz, Janet Ann Purtell, Zoe Nathan, Chloe Dyne and Charlotte Dyne.
Meyer described the team as “great and willing to learn.”
“They have a good foundation of basketball experience,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about them.”
The Sharks hustled and played hard, but still have some learning to do, such as how to keep their composure when the opposing team plays tough, pressure defense.
Malibu finished with a 14-11 record last season and a 15-11 record two seasons ago. The Sharks were led by a core of girls who experienced a ton of basketball growth throughout high school.
Meyer said Sharks’ youth of today harkens back to 2012, when the girls who accomplished two of the most successful seasons of girls basketball in school history were freshman hoopsters.
“This is exactly where we were four years ago,” he said. “I had two seniors and six freshman come in. They played varsity, so it was a struggle the first two years, but the last two years were the best years ever in school history. It payed off. It’s déjà vu now.”
The coach said once the regular season begins in the fall, he will be geared toward making sure the team doesn’t get discouraged.
“We are going to go against some experienced teams with four or five starters who are 18 years old, and I’m going to have players who are barely 14,” he said. “I have no idea how many games we are going to win this year, but there will probably be times where we struggle. We want to win, but we also want to focus on the future.”
Meyer stressed to the Sharks that being a good team like last season’s team is a process.
“We had some struggles early on, but it paid off,” he said. “It didn’t come easy. Those girls worked hard to get there.”