Fast start propels Burbank basketball past Simi Valley

BURBANK — It was a dominant way for the Burbank High girls' basketball team to open its summer.

With the graduation of six athletes, the Bulldogs coaches and players were anxious to see how the squad would shape up with some new players in key spots.

There was one thing the Bulldogs didn't have to worry about, however, as they have their best player back in senior-to-be Yazzy Sa'Dullah, last year's co-Pacific League Player of the Year.

Burbank opened up its season in fine fashion Tuesday in the Burroughs Summer League. Behind a quick start and a solid defensive effort, the Bulldogs had little trouble dispatching Simi Valley, 60-19, in a game at Burroughs High.

"I can't say we have a young team, because we have a large group of seniors," Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden said. "But we are young experience-wise. There are a lot of our girls who don't have a lot of varsity experience and we want to see how they do.

"Really, summer is a time when we can see how we can put it all together and where some players might fit. We are going to have two, three, maybe even four open spots, so we're looking for this to be a competitive summer and we will see who is going to step up for us."

One of the Burbank spots not open for competition is the point guard position, which is held down by Sa'Dullah. After transferring from Las Vegas, the speedy athlete enjoyed a fine first season with the Bulldogs in 2013-14. She averaged 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 3.3 steals per contest.

Against Simi Valley, Sa'Dullah played limited minutes, but still made her presence known. Along with scoring 10 points, she had six rebounds and four steals.

"I just love to play defense and rebound," Sa'Dullah said. "Although I'm just little and I'm a guard, I love to go in there and rebound. I really like to play in the paint a lot."

The Bulldogs also benefited by getting 6-foot-5 senior Anastacia Tsybaeva into the lineup. Tsybaeva had to sit out her entire junior season after her eligibility was denied after transferring twice prior to last year. Also in limited minutes, Tsybaeva scored four points and had three rebounds and two blocks.

"She just really changes things around for us when we can have her in there," Breeden said. "I thought she had nice footwork in the game, but there are still a few things she has to work on."

Leading Burbank in scoring was senior Sabrina Rios, who tallied a game-high 14 points, with all of her points coming in the first half of the game played in 20-minutes halves. Rios missed last season after tearing her ACL.

"I thought that coming back from the torn ACL she might be a little tentative," Breeden said. "But she really came out and attacked the basket. That's really good to see."

Junior Christina Mkrtchyan added 11 points and four rebounds for the Bulldogs.

While the Burbank offense was clicking, its defense was hounding the Pioneers. The Bulldogs forced 25 turnovers, 15 coming in the first half.

It was that defense that set the tone early against Simi Valley. The Bulldogs began the game on a 20-0 run, forcing eight turnovers in the process. The Pioneers didn't help their cause on offense, as they missed their first seven shots from the field. Simi Valley was finally able to score its first bucket of the game with 11:19 left to cut the lead to 20-2.

In the first half, the Pioneers converted just one of 11 field-goal attempts and shot 9.1%.

That allowed the Bulldogs to dominate play, ending the half with a 39-5 advantage.

Although the Pioneers played better in the early minutes of the second half, cutting into the lead a little, 39-12, the Bulldogs responded and took back control.

"All in all, this is a very good start for us," Breeden said. "But we have a lot more summer to go."


Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.

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