The Half Moon Bay High School girls basketball team was tired.
The Cougars were not only tired of losing, but tired of the way they were losing. They were tired of not hustling, not playing well on defense and not looking good.
The final straw came in the first half of its Peninsula Athletic League North Division game at Oceana, on Jan. 30. The Cougars were down by 11 and it wasn’t pretty.
It all changed in the second half. Led by seniors Chandra Anderson, Rachel Staal, McKenna Hilton and Jasmine Lovette, the Cougars staged an enthusiastic comeback, based on steals and fast-break points. The revival led to Half Moon Bay getting nearly every rebound at both ends of the floor.
Half Moon Bay said farewell to its three-game losing streak with a 49-44 victory. By the time the game ended, the Sharks were the frustrated players.
Half Moon Bay ended the week with a 60-27 win over Jefferson. Half Moon Bay started the week with a 59-25 loss to potential league champion Westmoor.
Half Moon Bay fell to San Jose 52-50 in a nonleague game Saturday.
The Cougars end the league season on the road this week. They play at 6 p.m. today at El Camino and at 6:15, Friday, at Terra Nova. The Cougars need to win both games to clinch a spot in next week’s PAL Tournament.
Half Moon Bay was competitive in the first quarter with the Sharks. But the Sharks had a hot streak in the second quarter, and Half Moon Bay went back into the listless mode that characterized the Cougars in their previous losses. Though Half Moon Bay was down by 9, Half Moon Bay fans feared another half of less-than-enthusiastic basketball.
Staal decided she’d had enough of that and shared her frustration with her teammates at halftime.
“I think we were done losing and done being fed up with each other,” Staal said. “We said let’s come together and let’s do it.”
The Cougars found a little fire and just kept building from that. Whenever Oceana scored, the Cougars just brushed it aside and went to make another play.
“I felt like we started to come back together as a team, like when we played the first part of the season,” Staal said. “It felt like the chemistry started going. We started working together. We were looking for each other.”
Staal and Anderson were forcing turnovers. Staal and Hilton were sinking some buckets, pulling the Cougars close.
Staal’s steal and layup tied the score midway through the fourth quarter. Another steal and layup — this time by Hilton — gave the Cougars the lead for good. The 2-point lead was quickly doubled when an Oceana player was called for a technical foul because she slammed the ball in frustration before it was in-bounded.
Half Moon Bay was a confident team down the stretch. It was very different from the Westmoor game, in which everyone was down on each other.
“Today, we were laughing before the game, we were hanging out, and we were joking with each other,” Lovette said. “That kind of energy made us work together.”
Hilton scored 16 points and Staal added 15. A fifth senior, Aria Chee, was recovering from an illness and didn’t play.