Though it took awhile to kick into gear, a new era of East High girls basketball started in much the same way the previous one ended.
Samantha Garcia scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the second half, Aliah Jackson was one rebound shy of a double-double and the Blades earned Jarrod Rendel a win in his first game as the program's new head coach, taking down Foothill 41-21 in a sloppy season-opener for both teams Monday.
Clinging to a narrow 10-7 lead at the half, Garcia gave East some breathing room on the opening possession of the third quarter when she connected on the first 3-pointers of the game.
Jayda Espinoza then connected on a triple on the next possession, with Garcia adding another just over two minutes later, stretching the lead to 28-17 by the quarter's end.
After deferring to Kanyah Patterson and Alaisha Landeros a year ago, Garcia, who averaged 8.7 points as a freshman last season, felt Monday was a nice stepping stone as she prepares to take on a starring role this season.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking. It’s hard being a leader. There’s (big) shoes to fill," she said. "But I’ve got it. Now that we’ve got our first game out of the way, I know what it's like.”
Garcia also keyed a strong defensive effort, finishing with eight steals. East finished with 25 steals as a team.
The Blades also got help from the inside presence of Jackson, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The win was the Blades' ninth in a row dating back to last season, when they qualified for the Division V state championship game, which was eventually canceled by COVID-19.
Despite losing their top two leading scorers, as well as coach Bobby Sharp, some might not be surprised to see East struggling a bit in its first game in over a year.
And though he was happy to win his debut, Rendel expected a more thorough effort, and thinks things will look smoother going forward, especially on the offensive end.
"(For the score to be) 10-7 at the half, that's ridiculous," he said. "We're way better than that. I'm glad we got it together, but let's put it together for four quarters."
Diana Carreno had 10 points and eight rebounds in defeat for the Trojans.