The Malibu High School girls basketball team became champions of the Battle by the Beach tournament Thursday, Dec. 11, with a resounding 41-18 win over the Foothill Tech Dragons.
Junior center Kendall Jordan was named MVP of the tournament, which was the first hosted by the high school.
“I was kind of surprised,” Jordan said about winning MVP. “I thought it was going to go to [junior guard] Gianna [Chaisson] to be honest, because she played really great in the tournament.”
The Sharks played four games in four nights starting Monday, Dec. 8, and dominated their opponents for the most part. Malibu won by an average of 20 points in three of the four games.
Jordan’s breakout performance came against the Pacific Hills Bruins on Wednesday, Dec. 10. She had 29 points, 15 boards, three steals and three blocks.
The Sharks needed overtime, a press defense and two clutch-free throws by junior center Sara Joshi to pull out the 62-54 win over the Bruins.
That pressing defense helped Malibu against Foothill Tech, which turned the ball over several times. Chaisson said the press is what got them the win over the Dragons.
“That gives a lot of pressure on the other team and I know that they weren’t expecting that, so we went out hard,” Chaisson said.
The Sharks got off to a quick start against the Dragons and found themselves leading 19-0 before Foothill Tech made their first basket off a breakaway layup with five minutes left to play in the first half.
Foothill Tech got going offensively in the second half, but by then it was too late. Malibu ended the third quarter with a 35-11 lead, and won the game handily.
Jordan said the Sharks’ win may have been fueled by the hype surrounding the championship game and the tournament itself.
“We really want this,” Jordan said. “We want to get as many wins before season starts. We really want to just prove to our own team and others that we can really go out there and win games.”
Chaisson scored in double figures in two games and pulling down 16 rebounds against Pacific Hills.
“She’s a really great leader and really knows how to hold us together and pick us back up when we’re feeling down,” Jordan said of Chaisson.
Coach Andy Meyer said the team improved in every way throughout the tournament, especially in offensive rebounding.
“In some of these games, we’re getting more offensive rebounds in one game than we’d have in three games total last year,” Meyer said.
Meyer said in November that Malibu’s goal was to make the playoffs. Jordan said after the game Thursday that the goal was within reach.
“I think we need to work more,” Jordan said, “but I think it’s definitely a possibility. I think we show the strength and the compassion to get up there and win.”
Next, the Sharks will go on the road for another tournament that starts on Thursday, Jan. 1.