Basketball: Ito getting things done

Freshman Alyssa Ito earned the starting point guard spot from the beginning of the season.

Before the season started, freshman Alyssa Ito didn’t expect to earn a starting spot on the San Benito High girls basketball team. Then again, Ito isn’t your normal freshman. The 5-foot-1 Ito has done a solid job at the point guard spot this season, displaying a maturity belying her youth.
“I’ve really been enjoying playing on the team this season,” said Ito, who scored 18 points, including the game-winning shot in a 44-43 win over Salinas on Tuesday. “My teammates are great to play with, and hopekfully we can finish first or second in league. We definitely want to play North Salinas better the second time around.”
The Haybalers (8-6 overall, 1-1 MBL Gabilan) lost to the defending Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division champions on Jan. 5, a result of North Salinas’ full-court pressure. Ito also saw plenty of stifling full-court pressure against powerhouse Valley Christian, which hammered the Balers on Dec. 30.w
“Valley Christian was crazy tough,” she said. “It’s kind of hard getting the ball up-court against teams that good.”
Any San Benito player who touched the ball had a tough time against Valley Christian, especially Ito, who was immediately swarmed every time she touched the ball. Although it was a rough experience, Ito tried to make it a learning experience.
“I know I have to work on my left hand more dribbling the ball,” she said. “Because if I can dribble the ball as well with my left hand as I can with my right, it’ll be easier to break the pressure. I also want to improve my footwork when I’m passing.”
Ito hopes to gain more confidence as the season goes along. One of Ito’s strengths is driving to the lane and pulling up early for floaters, something she has to do against much taller players.
“I want to become more of a scorer,” she said. “Right now I’m not taking my shot as much as I could or should be because I’m just not that confident yet.”
There is no reason to think that Ito won’t improve in the years ahead. Ito has an indefatigable work ethic, excelling in a variety of areas. Ito earned straight-A’s—that’s seven classes—in the recently completed first semester, and she’s coming off a strong season playing on the junior varsity girls volleyball team.
In the spring, Ito plans on playing softball while keeping up her duties as the freshmen class president for Circle of Friends, a club that helps bring understanding and acceptance to students with mental or physical challenges. Ito said she doesn’t plan on running cross country or track in high school—much to the dismay of the coaches who know just how fast Ito is—because simply enjoys ball sports more.
“I still run, but it’s never been my favorite thing to do,” she said.
Ito has run four or five half-marathons, but she won’t be running in any more races until she graduates from high school. At that point, she’ll reassess and make the appropriate decision on what sport—if any—she’ll be able to play in college. For now, Ito is simply enjoying her freshman year as one of the more well-rounded student-athletes at San Benito.

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