Abraham cleaning up on the glass

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Riley Abraham
Riley Abraham

It’s not often a coach tells a player to stop doing something because she is doing it too well.

But that’s been the case a few times at the Rio Mesa High girls’ basketball practices this season.

When the team is conducting rebounding drills, Rio Mesa coach Tim Murray has to restrain Riley Abraham from hoarding every ball.

“It’s almost hard for us because the other kids go, ‘Why should I block out or go after a rebound when Riley is going to get them all?’ ” Murray said. “It’s almost like Kobe (Bryant) and the Lakers when he is taking over and everyone else stands and watches.”

Many of Rio Mesa’s opponents have been feeling the same way as Abraham’s teammates.

The 6-foot-1 junior has been a rebounding machine this season.

Abraham has become the female version of Dennis Rodman, albeit without the quirky personality.

She is averaging a county-leading 16.4 rebounds per game.

Abraham grabbed a career-high 28 rebounds last week in a game against Pacifica and added 24 two days later against Camarillo.

Earlier in the season, she had 27 rebounds against St. Bonaventure.

Through 21 games, Abraham has 345 total rebounds — 139 offensive and 151 defensive — which already ranks third in Rio Mesa’s single-season records.

“I always try to give it my all, and going after every rebound is something that I can do to help my team this year,” Abraham said. “I want to do whatever is needed to try and win games.”

Abraham’s rebounding ability is not just a product of being tall.

She studies the craft carefully, and watches other players to learn subtleties she can use in games.

“I see how the person is shooting and where the ball is going to go and then see where the person is,” Abraham said. “I always try to get myself better because I know I can improve even more.”

Murray says Abraham’s success results from a combination of factors.

“She goes for every rebound on both ends of the court and she positions herself really well,” he said. “She has a knack for where the ball is going to come off and she pursues it really well. Not many kids do those four things, and she does them all really well.”

Although Abraham’s work on the boards stands outs, she brings even more to Rio Mesa this season.

She is averaging 14.2 points per game, and has become a leader for a team with no seniors.

“I know girls are looking up to me and I have to do things right,” she said. “I was ready for it this season and I kind of took it under my wings to help them.”

Murray is hoping Abraham’s prodigious rebounding numbers may help bring more attention to the often overlooked skill.

“It’s one of those things people in the stands don’t really appreciate as much as scoring baskets,” he said. “But it’s something that Riley knows she is really good at and really takes pride in.”

Small schools, big showdown: The two best small school teams in the area this season will meet on Thursday when Oaks Christian (15-5, 5-0) hosts Santa Clara (12-6, 4-0) at 7.

Both team enter week undefeated in Tri-Valley League play. Oaks Christian is ranked No. 1 in Division IV-A and Santa Clara is ranked No. 3 in Division V-AA.

Santa Clara is led by UCSB-bound center Keiana Vines, who is averaging 23.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.7 blocked shots per game.

Oaks Christian has three players averaging double figures in scoring — Brianna Barrett (13.5), Meghan McIntyre (12.4) and Crystal Owusu (10.9). Barrett is also averaging 5.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game.

Short shots: Royal senior guard Kaity Lykins is filling up the stat sheet this season. She is averaging 12 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 4.2 steals. … Buena will be out for revenge on Thursday when the Bulldogs travel to face Santa Barbara. The Dons handed Buena its only league loss with a big second-half comeback on Jan. 4. Buena has won five straight since that setback. … Freshman guard Noam Leead is averaging 10.6 points for Agoura this season. Leead scored 24 points last week in a victory over Moorpark.

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