Cambrian: Sports

‘It won’t be easy’ for Coast Union High girls basketball to win 3rd straight league titles

Three captains have been announced by girls basketball coach Keith Stowers, right, for the upcoming season: Ellie Kennedy, Angelique Gutierrez, and Alondra Mercado.
Three captains have been announced by girls basketball coach Keith Stowers, right, for the upcoming season: Ellie Kennedy, Angelique Gutierrez, and Alondra Mercado.

Keith Stowers did something he had never done after 40 years coaching boy’s basketball. He accepted a girl’s basketball coaching assignment, “not having any idea what I was getting into,” he said about accepting the assignment at Coast Union HIgh School.

Clearly, Stowers figured out how to coach high school girls. Over the past two years, he has led the Broncos to a pair of Coast Valley League (CVL) titles — posting 10-0 records each year — with a robust 18-7 record overall in 2018-19, including getting into the second round of Division 5AA CIF playoffs.

The Broncos were so loaded with talent that Stowers launched the 2018-2019 season with a goal of not just winning the CVL: “We were all in on a CIF title,” he recalled, albeit the team didn’t get that far.

He said the biggest difference in coaching young women is that, “girls for the most part are better listeners. If you gain their trust, they will learn and apply the basic fundamentals,” Stowers said.

Entering his third year at Coast Union, Stowers continues to seek the trust of his team — which he likely will need more than before because he has lost four outstanding seniors to graduation.

Karis Lawson (MVP of the team and the CVL), Kaylee Ferguson (first team CVL), Ailyn Casas (also first team CVL) and Bella Raethke (2nd team CVL) have all graduated.

As to the 2019-2020 team, Stowers said the group “has a shot at winning league, but it’s not going to be easy.”

He has senior Ellie Kennedy returning in a leadership position.

Lisi Appel is a sophomore who is “the surprise of the summer,” Stowers said following the team’s last summer workout July 12. “She plays volleyball, and her athletic ability will get her a lot of playing time.”

Stowers also has 5-foot-11 incoming freshman Sierra Bull, “with a large wingspan to bother teams trying to score under the basket.”

And he is pleased to have “sharp shooter” Emmy Johnson returning from a severe knee injury. “We are counting on her outside shot to open the lane more for the others,” he said.

Stowers said he has been “fortunate at Coast Union that my players have been raised by great families, who have taught their kids that schoolwork comes first. Last year, my team’s average GPA was 3.85.”

Coast Union’s teams have entered the “dead period” during which they can’t practice as a team, according to Coast Union Athletic Director Andrew Crosby.

Practice begins Aug. 5 for volleyball and football. Tennis and cross country teams can practice as of Aug. 12. Stowers’ team worked out in the summer to get a head start for their season upcoming in the winter.

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