It's been a trying season to say the least for the Rolling Hills Prep girls basketball team.
Alyssa Maxey broke her foot during the volleyball season and will require surgery following the basketball season. Macy Pakele tore her ACL in December. Maddie Yamada is playing with a strained knee.
"(Maxey) hasn't been 100 percent all year, and I don't know how much tape I've used on her," fifth-year coach Richard Masson said. "She missed some games early on, but she's a tough, hard-nosed kid."
All of that pales in comparison to the heartache dropped on the team before its first CIF Southern Section Division 2AA first round game. Scott Yamada, Maddie's father, passed away Jan. 20, 2019.
"After Scott passed away, we dedicated the rest of the season to Maddie's family," Masson said. "We're a very close team, and I think it's good for her we're still playing."
Those unaware of the situation would not know just by looking at Yamada.
"You can't tell what's going on between her ears," Masson said. "She's excelled, and I've got a lot of respect and admiration for her."
Yamada and RHP (23-3) have at least one more game to play, starting with Saturday's CIF-SS Division 2AA championship game against Orange Lutheran. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at Godinez High School.
Saturday marks the program's third consecutive section title game. In 2017, RHP won the division 6 championship before falling in the CIF State Division 5 title game. Last year, the Huskies won the Division 4A section title before posting the program's first state crown.
"I think it's remarkable," said Masson on the Huskies third consecutive section title game. "(CIF moving teams up) makes it hard to repeat, and it says a lot about our school. It's a great accomplishment."
The injury bug has dropped Masson's roster from 11 at the start of the season to nine, with his rotation consisting of seven players.
"It's definitely a testament to the kids," Masson said. "They're resilient and tough. We played three games in six days, and that's tough with smaller numbers."
While Masson knows nothing can be done about the Huskies lack of depth, he knows it is imperative to stay out of foul trouble Saturday afternoon.
"We had two players last game (Clarice Akunwafo and Naya Stroud) with four fouls, and if we lose either, we're in big trouble," Masson said. "We can't afford that."
Akunwafo has been a key component to the Huskies success this year. The sophomore forward has recorded a double-double in almost every game, but she played her worst game in an RHP jersey in the two-point semifinal against Roosevelt, finishing with five points.
"I can't remember the last time she had five points," Masson said. "Those games will happen, but we were able to overcome her worst. Sometimes, you have to rely on others to step up."
That's been the key to the Huskies success this year.
When Pakele went down with her ACL tear, up stepped freshman Tatum Tamashiro.
"Tatum was thrown into the wolves when Macy got hurt," Masson said. "She was thrust into the mix, and she's developed a lot because of injuries."
Masson saw what the freshman had to offer in a 12-point loss to Mater Dei Catholic in December. The freshman dropped 24 points that day to put any worries at ease.
The key Saturday will be containing Orange Lutheran's guard play, not to mention having a better offensive game than against Roosevelt.
"(Orange Lutheran) is a guard-oriented team, and they can shoot, but we've done a good job on teams like that this season," Masson said. "We shot poorly (against Roosevelt), and we did a bad job on the boards. Our defense saved us. We had a bad game collectively, and it happens, but it can't happen (against Orange Lutheran)."