Cougars leap out of gates

Christopher High point guard Cydney Caradonna, left, shows off her vertical leap next to guard Dejah Raoof on Wednesday in the school's gym. The juniors have helped give the Cougars (3-1) added scoring threats this season.

Cydney Caradonna has plenty of options when she brings the ball down the court for Christopher High’s girls basketball team.

The junior point guard could dish the ball to Hanna Tabron and watch the newly crowned Watsonville Tournament Most Valuable Player bust holes in a zone defense with a 3-pointer. Caradonna could find Dejah Raoof cutting through the lane and watch the slasher go up for an easy layup, or pass the ball to Olivia Tabron and watch the sophomore forward go to work on the low block.

Or Caradonna has a green light to score herself. Yes, life is good when you have the keys to the controls of a Cougars offense that has sparkled over a 3-1 start.

“I think that a lot of teams don’t really know what to do with us,” Caradonna said. “I think the past few years, it’s just kind of been like, ‘OK, we’re going to D up Hanna and we’ll shut them down.’ They tried that and we won league last year, and I think this year that we have a lot more options. We have so many girls who can come off the bench and score. It’s not just starters.”

Caradonna is part of an expanded offensive arsenal this season for Christopher, which rattled off three straight wins last weekend to capture the Watsonville tourney title. And the signs of growth have arrived as the Cougars prepare to rise to the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division this season.

“The first few years it was all about Hanna,” Christopher coach Heather Stewart said. “You’d see teams start to double and triple team her. Cydney would handle the ball and took that off Hanna’s plate, and now we’ve added Dejah and Cydney to become more scorers and Olivia on the block. We really have more well-rounded scoring threats this year.”

Hanna Tabron has been her usual dominant self. The 5-foot-11 sharpshooter hit four 3-pointers on her way to 28 points in a 52-47 win over San Benito in the Watsonville title game.

But her supporting cast announced its presence early in the tournament. Raoof scored 15 points in a 48-34 semifinal win over St. Francis Central Coast Catholic, and Caradonna led three double-figure scorers with 16 points in a 51-45 first-round win over Monte Vista Christian.

Raoof and Caradonna were both named to the all-tournament team.

“I think it takes a lot of stress off Hanna,” Raoof said. “Last year, we would just give it to Hanna, give it to Hanna. Now she doesn’t have to feel pressure to do everything by herself. She knows she has teammates by her to help.”

The group could help Hanna Tabron get even more open looks at the basket.

“I think they’ve definitely eased Hanna’s pressure,” Stewart said. “I think knowing that she doesn’t have to score all the points every game has been beneficial. I think she trusts them and knows that if she makes that pass, she’s going to get teammates who finish for her. She’s definitely enjoying having a great supporting cast around her.”

Indeed she is.

“This year we have more threats, so when one person’s not having a good night, someone else can take that spot,” Hanna Tabron said. “When you have more threats on the court, more spots open up and more people are open.

“Dejah’s strengths are shooting and getting offensive rebounds, and Cyd’s good at pushing the ball up and getting to the basket when needed.”

Hanna Tabron remains the cornerstone of a program that went 11-1 in league play last season. She averaged 17.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.5 steals last year.

Her sister, Olivia Tabron, also is back after putting up 10.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a freshman.

“They’re kind of funny because they’re the kind of sisters who argue all the time, but we all know they love each other,” Caradonna said. “When they give each other high fives, everybody goes crazy because it’s something you never see.”

Christopher hopes to share plenty of high fives as it aims to surpass last season’s 20-6 campaign, which ended with a 47-31 loss to Los Gatos in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.

However the Cougars cross the finish line, they plan to do it together.

“The biggest thing is that we all like each other,” Hanna Tabron said. “We’re all friends off the court, so it helps a lot with chemistry.”

Leave your comments