Arleta beats Verdugo Hills 52-33
In a game that was expected to be neck and neck from the start of the first period until the final buzzer, Monday night’s contest between the Arleta Mustangs and the Verdugo Hills Dons turned out to be a show of total domination by the Mustangs. The game was, at first, an even spectacle of effort and skill. The Mustangs remained only two points ahead of Verdugo going into the halftime break. But something happened, there was a turning point in the last two quarters that took spectators and coaches alike by surprise and Arleta emerged victorious 52-33.
Arleta High Schools girls’ basketball went to the semifinals last season, but with the graduating class of 2023, the team lost some of its key players, leaving the girls scrambling to fill in those shoes – no doubt an intimidating feat. However, Arleta’s girls team shined this Monday night with an unpredicted crew. Erika Guijarro, Head Coach of Arleta High’s girls team stated that, “This season’s supporting cast came from last year's bench riders.” It is an accomplishment of both the players and the team of coaches to have such a strong turn around.
Although the Mustangs took the win this game, the effort of the Verdugo Hills Dons cannot go unrecognized. For the last four years, Arleta and Verdugo girls have been battling it out for East Valley League supremacy. Each game between the schools have been notorious for keeping spectators on the edges of their seats. Head Coach Kevin Henry explained, “We thought we were in good shape, we just didn’t have it.” Although both teams were bringing the heat, it could be seen definitively from the last quarter that Verdugo Hills had lost the Mustangs defensively, letting Arleta slip past their blocks and keep scoring. Henry said with candor that, “We play high energy when we’re on, and today we just never got that roll.”
One thing to be learned from Monday’s game is to never underestimate the underdog. Even though Arleta has been suffering from their lack of key players, and their new staple players are finding their footing, they still showed up and left everything on the court. With the victory, Guijarro declared that the team is, “buying into the system, and [the team] is coming back strong.” The teams that are bound to play against Arleta are in for some surprises, and those teams that are set to play Verdugo Hills shouldn’t expect anything less than a challenging game when the girls get their groove and dial in.