PLAY DEL REY — St. Monica’s girls’ basketball team’s record may be a sub-par 6-11 this season, but that doesn’t concern first-year head coach John Skinner.

As the Mariners prepare to take on St. Bernard, ranked No. 1 in the latest California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section poll, Skinner said that he thinks his squad is beginning to buy into his system.

“We’re becoming a good second half team,” Skinner said. “We haven’t been starting games well, but we’re trying to figure out different ways to do it.”

He was careful not to put the blame on his players, instead he said, “It all starts with the coaches.”

As a result, he and his staff have been working on getting the team ready out of the blocks.

“As coaches, we can give them the tools, but they have to take ownership of focusing early on,” he said.

The Mariners will be tested by a St. Bernard team led by UCLA-recruit Kacy Swain and freshman sensation Lajahna Drummer. Skinner, impressed by St. Bernard’s lineup, said that tonight’s non-league road game will be a great indicator of where his team is in his first year as coach.

“We’ve shown improvement,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out different ways to get it done.”

He’ll look to seniors Cory Laguardia and Monique Boa to pace the Mariners tonight. He added that as they go, the team goes, so they will have to come up big against a quality opponent to walk away with a win.

“[St. Bernard] is a very strong program,” Skinner said. “Our goal in that game is to continue to work on getting better.”

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