PALOS VERDES PENINSULA — Trailing by 33 points at halftime, coach Ernest Siy knew his Holy Family girls’ basketball team was not playing to extend its season. Perhaps that’s why he displayed a positive tone after losing, 63-23, to Chadwick in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5-AA playoffs and ending the season with a 7-18 record.
“I wrote one word on the grease board, ‘Pride,’” Siy said of the halftime message he gave his players. “I said listen, you guys are cementing your reputation right now. How do you want to be remembered? How do you want Chadwick to perceive Holy Family? It's completely up to you guys.”
Though the final result remained lopsided in favor of the Dolphins, Holy Family came out in the third quarter with renewed determination as if the game were just tipping off. By the time the final buzzer sounded on the Gaels’ season they had allowed the lead to grow only by 10.
Junior Charisse Talaro, who finished with a team-high nine points, drained jumpers on the Gaels’ first two possessions of the half. Then, Tabitha Ruiz hit a three-pointer to help the team match its total number of field goals from the entire first half in just three and a half minutes. Aia Intrepido’s layup with three minutes left in the third quarter gave Holy Family nine points in the period after scoring eight in the first half.
“The first few minutes of the second half they came out and played with some fire, some urgency and intensity, and they did great. I'm proud of them,” Siy said.
Adversity was the name of the game for the Gaels. Chadwick sports four players in the rotation taller than the Gaels’ tallest player. And Chadwick used that height to repeatedly dominate the glass and score second- and third-chance points.
As if height weren’t enough, Holy Family, which normally plays its home games at Pacific Park Community Center, had a scheduling conflict and was forced to surrender home court to Chadwick.
“The venue was not an excuse,” Siy said.
The Dolphins kept their own feet on the proverbial gas pedal, answering every Holy Family bucket with one or two of their own as they pushed the lead to 38 at the end of the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Gaels, this marks their third one-and-done result in three trips to the playoffs over the last four years. And the game was all but over shortly after it got underway as the Dolphins jumped out to a 20-4 first-quarter lead.
Kelly Ouye, Jennifer Doi and Taylor Jackson all drained threes as seven Dolphins contributed points in that fateful first period. The Gaels managed just four points of their own.
Senior Melissa Chan, the team’s leading scorer, contributed two of those four points, but was held scoreless for the rest of the final game of her career.
“It was really good pressure defense on their part,” Siy said of Chadwick’s ability to shut down Chan. “They obviously knew who she was. She's been our rock all year and they shut her down. They shut her down good.”
Chan averaged nine points per game this season and reached double figures 12 times.
“This single game right here doesn't define her, she's a hell of a player,” Siy said.
As for the Gaels’ future, Siy remains optimistic that they can compete with schools like Chadwick in the near future.
“We obviously have a long way to go to the talent of a Chadwick,” Siy said. “We've got a good core of girls coming back next year and I'm hoping that they buy into that commitment and hard work.”
Indeed, Ruiz and Talaro, the second- and third-leading scorers behind Chan, will be back next year as the Gaels look to improve on their third-place finish in the Horizon League.