LA CANADA — It was anyone's guess how the Flintridge Prep girls' basketball team would respond to its No. 4 seed in its opener of the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA playoffs.
The Rebels lived up to their favorite status with a dominating first quarter where they scored 18 points — the amount California Military Institute scored the entire game — and forced 17 turnovers, which set them on a clear path to a 54-18 home victory.
“We weren't sure necessarily how they were going to come out,” Flintridge Prep Coach Kevin Kiyomura said of his team. “We just said, 'Let's go play our normal game and attack them,' and they were ready. You could see it on their faces. … You could tell that the girls wanted this win real badly.”
Flintridge Prep (17-7) will hit the road for the second round, which is scheduled to take place Saturday at 7 p.m., against the winner of Thursday's Hamilton-Desert Christian first-round game.
There was plenty of offensive balance for Prep, with five players logging at least six points, including Grace Cha (13 points) Talia Ismail (12 points), Maya Okamoto (six points, three steals), Kinsey Thompson (six points, four rebounds) and Lacy Coan (six points, six rebounds, five steals).
Defensively, no Rough Rider scored more than five points and the team committed 37 turnovers under the Rebels' full-court press.
“It feels great [to win big],” said Ismail, who also had five steals. “Now we're going to come in with so much more confidence for the next game. … I would describe this as a good team win.”
Thompson helped set the tone by forcing two turnovers and scoring four points less than two minutes into the game for a 4-0 lead. Okamoto added a pair of buckets to give the Rebels an 8-0 advantage before the California Military Institute (11-6) got off its first shot more than six minutes into the game.
“We always stress defense in all of our games, and knowing we're into CIF we had to stress it even more,” Ismail said.
Ismail scored eight points in the first half, as the game slowed down considerably in the second and third quarters. Flintridge Prep held a 26-9 lead at halftime and increased it to 32-13 going into the fourth quarter.
With most of the starters on the bench, the Rebels pulled way out of reach in the final frame, which they opened on a 9-0 run. Cha scored nine of her game-high 13 points and logged four rebounds and three steals in the last eight minutes.
“I just wanted to build off the lead because we're not really used to building off leads, we kind of plateau usually,” said Cha, who did it all off the bench. “I just wanted to get it going and finish strong for our team.”