By Jim Hague
A year ago, Camila Alonso was a little used sophomore on the Lyndhurst High School girls’ basketball team. In fact, the 5-foot-10 forward didn’t even start the season with the Golden Bears’ varsity.
When Alonso was sent down to play for the junior varsity, she was determined to make it to the varsity level as soon as possible.
“It was motivation for me,” Alonso said. “I knew I had to work harder. I wanted to be on the court with the varsity and I didn’t make it. I knew that I was going to do whatever I needed to do to be with the varsity.”
Perrin Mosca was the firstyear head coach at Lyndhurst last season, so it took him a while to realize the team’s talent level.
“I always thought Camila had the talent,” Mosca said. “She just didn’t do it in a game.”
But midway through the Lyndhurst junior varsity season a year ago, Alonso enjoyed her breakthrough game.
“She went out and dropped 38 in a game,” Mosca said. “That was it. She was with us. That was crazy.”
Alonso remained with the varsity for the remainder of last season.
“She came on at the end of the season,” Mosca said. “She was pretty strong for us.”
The surge at the close of her sophomore year gave Alonso the impetus to work even harder for the start of her junior season.
“I put a lot of time in the offseason,” Alonso said. “I worked on different parts of my game. I worked on my left hand, going to my left more. I also worked on my short jumper, so I can pull up and shoot instead of having to go right to the basket.”
“She worked very hard over the summer,” Mosca said. “She was always trying to get better. She worked hard on her post moves and began shooting the ball well.”
When the new season began in December, Alonso was ready. And Mosca knew that he had a prominent inside presence.
“I knew that she would be real good,” Mosca said. “I always knew she had it in her.”
Alonso has emerged as one of the finest post players in the NJIC Meadowlands Division. She’s been a consistent presence all season, scoring and rebounding.
Recently, Alonso has picked up her game even more. In the past week, Alonso had 25 points and six rebounds in a loss to St. Mary’s of Rutherford, collecting 19 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Wallington and had 19 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Weehawken, increasing the Golden Bears’ record to 9-3.
For her efforts, Alonso has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
While Mosca always believed that Alonso would develop into a top player, Alonso is somewhat shocked by her performance, which has seen her average nearly 16 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
“Actually, I am surprised,” Alonso said. “The coaches were always telling me that I could do it and that motivated me.”
Mosca said that Alonso is developing into a complete player.
“A lot of teams realize what she can do now, so they’re doubling her,” Mosca said. “But she’s doing a great job of looking for her teammates. The teammates have trust in her and try to get her the ball. She’s putting up some great numbers.”
“I like the fact that my teammates have confidence in me,” Alonso said. “I have more confidence now and I feel I can do it. They’re counting on me. If I feel more confident, I can do a lot more, score, rebound, do all the things I want to.”
Mosca knows there is still room for a lot of improvement with Alonso.
“There are still some points in the game where she’s not doing anything and we’re working on that,” Mosca said.
Alonso recognizes her fault.
“I was thinking too much,” Alonso said. “It’s more mental. But now, I think everything is coming more natural. I know what I have to do now. It comes more naturally and easier.”
Mosca believes that Alonso’s best days are in front of her.
“Hopefully, by next year, she’ll be playing a full game,” Mosca said. “I’m trying to get her to play every play.”
“He’s right,” Alonso said. “I have to be able to my hardest all four quarters. I’ve been focusing on that and what I have to do.”
Mosca is convinced that if Alonso continues her development, she will become a college prospect. When the Golden Bears played last month at a tournament in Wildwood, a handful of college recruiters paid attention to Alonso and showed interest.
“I definitely do think she can play on the next level,” Mosca said. “From where she was to where she is now, it’s been pretty amazing.”
“I was pretty surprised the colleges were looking at me,” Alonso said. “That makes me want to work harder.”
Alonso plans to become a three-sport athlete in the future. She will join the outdoor track team in the spring and next fall, she’ll become part of the soccer team.
“I want to be able to stay in shape all year,” Alonso said. “It’s great that we’re winning in basketball right now. Winning helps to keep everyone together. We’re all together now and it shows in the games.”
And shows in Alonso’s performances thus far.