While the Eastside College Prep girls basketball team was in the locker room discussing its 79-52 loss to visiting Miramonte on Monday night, the Matadors were whooping it up in front of a television camera near the Panthers logo on the court.
It wasn't too long ago that Eastside (4-3) was doing the celebrating. The two-time defending state Division V champion handed St. Francis its first loss of the season on Saturday but the Panthers (4-3) could not carry the momentum into Monday night's contest.
Miramonte (5-2) played its first game in over a week and showed no signs of rust. The Matadors looked more organized, running their offense efficiently and using a zone press to slow down the Panthers.
Eastside has plenty of good basketball left to play, including its own Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, which begins Thursday, Dec. 28. Eastside meets St. Mary's Academy on the first day at 6 p.m.
Miramonte reached the NorCal regional finals in Division II last year and sports a 65-8 record since the beginning of the 2015-16 season. Coach Kelly Sopak has 324 career victories and coached in the USA women's national program.
It appears the Matadors have an arsenal of weapons but it would be hard to gauge from Monday night's performance as 5-foot-5 senior point guard Clair Steele simply took over the game.
Steele scored 37 points, shooting from a variety of locales but mostly from the foul line, where she was a clinical 16-of-18. She may be the shortest player on the team but she's anything but height-challenged.
Over the past two years, Eastside's Zion Gabriel (5-4) and Kayla Tahaafe (5-7) have shown its more about desire than height.
Tahaafe and Mina Tameilau each scored 11 points to lead the Panthers. Gabriel added 10 and 6-foot freshman Marley Langi had nine, including a 3-pointer.
Eastside was within six points of Miramonte midway through the second quarter but the Matadors went on a short run to push the advantage to double digits and maintained the lead.