Truong makes noise as leader 

For the Washington girls’ basketball team to be successful this season, Steph Truong really didn’t have a choice.

The soft-spoken senior had stayed in the background last year, content to play a complementary role on a team that reached the San Francisco Section final and advanced to the NorCal playoffs.

But with the graduation of star players Sharon Cheng and Kimberly Hom, Eagles coach Vince Wong needed his returning point guard to confidently emerge as the team’s featured player.

And as Washington gets set for today’s 5 p.m. section final against Lowell at Kezar Pavilion, it’s clear she has.

"We knew Steph had the talent and the potential, but as coaches, the only question we had was whether she’d take control," Wong said. "And she’s stepped up big-time."

The 5-foot-6 Truong has proven to be one of the Academic Athletic Association’s more versatile players this season and Wong said she is averaging about 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game. She is now looking forward to being in the spotlight at Kezar, as Washington (15-14) prepares to face the Cardinals for the third time this season. Washington won the first meeting 64-57 in triple overtime on Jan. 26 and Lowell (28-2) countered with a 37-29 decision Feb. 13. The Cardinals beat the Eagles 56-46 in last year’s championship game.

"It always seems like it comes down to us and Lowell," Truong said. "But I just can’t wait to have another chance to play in a championship game, no matter who it’s against. I’m excited just to be on that court in that gym in front of all those people."

A title game appearance looked like a long shot early this season for Washington, which started off its nonleague schedule 1-11. But in a demonstration of her added leadership responsibilities, Truong and fellow seniors Kelsey Lam, Shannon Yen and Courtney O’Donnell have organized several team meetings during the season and the Eagles rebounded with 14 wins in their next 17 games.

"[Being a leader] is hard," Truong said. "But I work on correcting small things and calming the team down. Just the little things."

On the court, it is clear who is in control for Washington. Truong brings the ball up the court,sets up the offense and has the ability to break down opponents and set up her teammates or create scoring opportunities for herself. And after being named as honorable mention in the AAA last season, she has now emerged as a Player of the Year candidate.

"I guess it’s just more chances," said Truong, explaining her ascension. "Last year I was kind of a role player, but I’ve always been pretty confident with the ball in big situations."

SAN FRANCISCO SECTION CHAMPIONSHIP

At Kezar Pavilion

TODAY’S GAME

» Lowell (28-2) vs. Washington (15-14), 5 p.m.

melliser@examiner.com

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