BURBANK — The Lycee International of Los Angeles girls' basketball team was already depleted when it opened International League play Wednesday afternoon.
With one of their best players, Erin Sezgin, sidelined after being injured in an auto accident, the Lions were down to just seven players when they took on French school rival Le Lycee, which suited up 16 players.
LILA was further compromised when two of its starters fouled out in the second half.
Despite being severely undermanned, LILA received a fine effort from Alexa Infante and the squad just missed pulling off a comeback, losing 36-29 in a battle of Lions squads at Olive Recreation Center.
"To be without our MVP with her being injured is really tough," LILA coach Marilyn Dubon said. "We have a lot of freshmen playing and we have girls who have never played basketball before. And with a small team, they know they are going to be playing a lot.
"To be able to play like we did today and to still be in that game late, I'm very proud of our girls."
LILA received a fine effort from Infante, who carried the offensive load, scoring 21 of her team's 29 points. She also had six steals.
"It's definitely difficult that we don't have a lot of players, but we go out there and do the best that we can," Infante said. "I just try and do all that I can to help the team. It can be frustrating at times knowing what I have to do, but it's also an honor for me to be able to carry as much as I can."
Both LILA (1-1) and Le Lycee (1-2) had problems taking care of the ball. While LILA committed 45 turnovers, Le Lycee had 42.
LILA was hampered when starter Grace Edle Von Graeve fouled out with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter after scoring four points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking nine shots. Infante fouled out with 1:09 left in the game.
The squads played evenly through the first quarter, which ended in a 7-7 tie.
But Le Lycee made a move in the second quarter to seize the momentum. Le Lycee outscored its rival, 16-3, in the stanza to go into halftime with a 23-10 lead. The score was tied at 10 before Le Lycee tallied the final 13 points of the stanza.
In the second quarter, LILA converted just one of 11 shots from the field and committed 15 turnovers.
Things shifted in the third, however. Le Lycee, which went up, 24-10, made just one of 18 field-goal attempts and committed 13 turnovers to be outscored, 11-3. LILA went into the fourth quarter down, 26-21.
LILA kept battling back in the fourth, and when Mwi Epalle sank a basket with 3:12 remaining, the deficit had been whittled down to, 30-29. But that would be LILA's final basket, as Le Lycee ended the game on a 6-0 run.
"I'm proud of the way we battled back being down by 14 points," Infante said. "The whole team was out there giving it their best."