BURBANK — A Burroughs High girls’ basketball squad that has shown resiliency all season did so once again in its CIF Southern Section Division I-A quarterfinal playoff game on Saturday evening.
Previous instances resulted in the Indians coming out victorious in the midst of an undefeated Pacific League season that gave them the title and, more recently, two postseason victories that set up a home showdown with Huntington Beach for the right to clinch a berth in the semifinals.
Burroughs had a spirited second-half comeback attempt against the Oilers in front of a near capacity crowd at Burroughs High, but a first half littered with turnovers proved to be too much to overcome for the Indians, who succumbed to relentless defense and an athletic Huntington Beach team that has dropped just two games all season.
“I thought we were nervous and tight,” said Indians Coach Vicky Oganyan after the 66-52 defeat that snapped a 17-game winning streak and ended the Pacific League champions’ season. “It didn’t look like our team. I can’t explain it any other way. Huntington Beach is a really great team, so give them credit.”
Burroughs received a team-high 16 points from Davina Del Castillo, who also pulled down nine rebounds. Paula Galicia added 10 points, with Jakarra Waddell, Delaney Nicol and Brooke Radcliff each chipping in with six points. Waddell led the team in rebounds with 10.
Despite the hearty effort in the second half, the Indians’ deficit never dipped below double-digits, as the second quarter for Burroughs was disastrous and could not be nullified.
In the eight-minute frame, Huntington Beach’s full-court press held the Indians to five points, as the Oilers took a 37-15 lead into halftime.
The No. 6-seeded Indians (24-7) committed 19 turnovers in the first half — some leading to layups on the other end for an Oilers (27-2) team that shot better than 50% from the field through the first 16 minutes (16 for 30).
Both teams’ nerves got the better of them to start the game, as they combined for 16 first-quarter turnovers. Huntington Beach held a slim 14-10 advantage before turning up the intensity in the second and taking control of the game.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Oilers Coach Russell McClurg said of the second quarter. “We’re tough on defense and you can see that.”
While Burroughs came out of the locker room motivated, McClurg said his team came out slow mentally, and the Indians took advantage by scoring 10 of the first 12 and cutting the Huntington Beach lead to as little as 11 at 43-32 on a pair of free throws by Radcliff with less than three minutes to play in the third.
The Indians turned the tables on Huntington Beach, forcing 13 turnovers in the period, but continued to struggle from the field (five for 14) and five missed free throws paid dividends, as 11 points was the closest Burroughs would get in the second half.
Also unfortunate for the Indians, third-seeded Huntington Beach consistently made clutch baskets at opportune times. Radcliff’s free throws were followed by a three-point play by Paola Roa on the other end. Burroughs cut the lead down to 12 points on three occasions in the fourth quarter and looked ready to make a run, but the Oilers answered each basket to increase the lead and keep the Indians at bay.
Roa led all scorers with 23 points, followed by 14 from Stephanie Louie.
“Our seniors lead at the end,” he said. “The younger kids are athletic, but they catch up with their IQ as they learn. We settled down and hit some big shots.”
Oganyan, who will lose Galicia, Waddell, Alondra Ramirez and co-captain Sidney Ortega to graduation, spoke highly of her team in the losing effort in the quarterfinals and all season.
“I’m very proud of our accomplishments,” Oganyan said. “We did a great job and got better as the year went on. All the girls worked hard, from one to 13, and I can’t ask for much more as a coach.
“Even in losses, we fought hard. We came out fighting in the second half and that’s been us all year.”