Having coached men's basketball at the high school and college level for 25 years, Michael Anderson said that he would never!never!ever! coach girls.
"Never say never," said Anderson, who entering next week's playoffs, has lead the lady Magnolia Sentinels (18-8, 10-0) basketball team to its 29th straight Orange League win and its third consecutive league title.
Anderson said that coaching girls was something meant to be, and that doing so has been a much needed experience. "You're dealing with different types of personalities. With girls, you tell them to listen to the message and not the tone. You have to maximize your time, because girls leave practice and that's it. Boys will fight it out until midnight," said Anderson.
"In the end, basketball is universal. Coaching boys and coaching girls is basically the same," said Anderson.
This season, Anderson welcomed a strong non league schedule which often left his team on the losing end of lopsided contests, including two 25 point blowouts defeats to upper division power Bishop Amat, a 63-23 loss to Lynwood, and a 50-31 loss to Chino Hills Ayala.
"We played better in those games than the scores indicate," said Anderson, who is a self-admitted good salesman. "You have to paint the big picture. That there are benefits in the long run. I tell the girls to ignore the score. Let's look at the solutions, never the problems. The season is a marathon."
At 8-7 going into Orange League play, the Sentinels hardly looked invincible, but after rattling off eight league wins around a Bishop Amat loss, Magnolia has crept up the CIF Division III-AA rankings.
There is nothing statistically about Magnolia that jumps out. They have P.J. Hanson who averages 10 points and "can do everything on the court." Jhakia McDonald leads the team in scoring at 13 per game.
Brittany Pennell and Brianna Colon average about nine points. "We have a whole bunch who average a little and at the end, amount to a lot," said Anderson. "We have the four girls (all juniors) who can dominate a game, making us very hard to prepare for."
McDonald has exceeded 18 points in seven games and totaled 22 against Santa Margarita. Hanson led the Sentinels in a big win against Foothill with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Pennell scored 11 points with 13 rebounds in an impressive win over Gahr. She also scored 24 against Anaheim. Colon led a win over Artesia with 16 points.
The Sentinels have 3-point specialist Kim Bueno, Diamond Haley, and Melissa Balderas, all returners from last year. Anderson has worked in 6-foot-1 freshman defender and rebounder Desiree Hunter, along with senior Ashley Ross.
Magnolia has also recorded wins against upper division ranked teams Long Beach Wilson and Edison.
Due to injury, there hasn't been a game this season where Magnolia has played the same starting five. The biggest loss was sophomore Latrice Henderson, an all-CIF second team guard, whose season ended after knee surgery.
Magnolia advanced to the CIF-Division III-AA championship game last season where it lost to Pomona Diamond Ranch, 40-36. They lost to Santee Santana, 59-48 in the quarterfinals of the state championships.
"Going into the playoffs this
season, we'll have been battle tested. We have played the best and you have to
play the best to be the best," said Anderson.