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Nakamura unhappy despite easy win

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Monday January 14, 2002

Most coaches would be thrilled with a 21-point win over a solid opponent. But when you’ve got the tradition of excellence of the Berkeley High girls’ program, it simply isn’t enough. 

The Lady ’Jackets used a 11-0 second-quarter run to put away the Freedom Falcons on Saturday night, but Berkeley head coach Gene Nakamura wasn’t pleased with the way his team played. Despite a huge size advantage, Berkeley’s inside duo of senior Sabrina Keys and Devanei Hampton scored a total of 19 points against the Falcons, and the ’Jackets seemed content to sit on their lead in the second half rather than blow out their opponent. 

Nakamura’s list of his team’s faults was long and painstaking. 

“We’re not communicating, we’re not blocking out, we’re careless with the ball, and we’ve got terrible decision-making,” Nakamura said. “You can only go so far with the way we’re playing, and that’s not very.” 

For a program that has made back-to-back appearances in the state championship game and two state titles in the 1990s, anything less than perfection meets with harsh criticism. This year’s team is sitting at 8-7, and no one is particularly happy with how the season is going. 

“It looks like they’ve never even played together at times,” Nakamura said. “Our JVs and freshmen make better decisions than we do.” 

Saturday’s game was never really in doubt, with Berkeley having an obvious advantage in size and athleticism. Although the Falcons stayed close for a while thanks to some great shooting by guard Angie Montenegro, who hit 3 3-pointers in the first quarter on her way to a game-high 20 points, the ’Jackets were getting layups and putbacks and held at 16-12 lead after the period. 

Berkeley’s Angelita Hutton keyed the run that put the game away in the second quarter, scoring 9 points and an assist during the 11-0 run that made the score 27-12. The Falcons didn’t score in the quarter until Montenegro hit another 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the half, and they wouldn’t get any closer for the rest of the game. 

But rather than piling on the points, the ’Jackets let Freedom hang around, giving Montenegro, her team’s only offensive threat, open looks at the basket.  

“We didn’t defend the three today, and (Montenegro) took advantage,” Nakamura said. “I don’t know if she always shoots like that, but she was great today, just unconscious.” 

Both Montenegro and center Lindsey Leroy, who played stiff defense on the Berkeley post players, picked up their fourth personal fouls late in the quarter. But even with them on the bench, Nakamura’s team couldn’t extend its lead until the final minutes of the game, when play became ragged and both teams started running and turning the ball over. 

“We should have dominated inside,” Nakamura said. “They were doubling and tripling, and we practiced how to combat that all week. We just didn’t execute.” 

Hutton led the way for Berkeley 15 points, but missed 8 of 9 shots in the second half, many of them out-of-control drives to the basket. Hampton scored 10 points, but the freshman grew frustrated as the game went on as she missed some easy shots and didn’t get foul calls. Keys showed her frustration in the third quarter, drawing a techical foul for talking with a Freedom player at the foul line. That opened the door a crack for the Falcons, who could have cut Berkeley’s lead to single digits, but they missed all four ensuing free throws.