LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — In Saturday's battle between the girls' basketball teams from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Flintridge Prep, the Rebels defended their homecourt quite literally.
Flintridge Prep's zone defense and aggressive pressure on the ball proved to be the difference in the nonleague meeting, which the Rebels captured, 51-40, in holding the Tologs to their lowest point total of the season.
"We've just been preaching defense and team, team, team," first-year Rebels Coach Kevin Kiyomura said. "We're 11 deep, so we're just going to keep coming after people on defense and just rebound the basketball. It's pretty simple."
Flintridge Prep (2-0) was led by 20 points from freshman guard Tala Ismail, who sank a pair of free throws with 1:27 left in the fourth quarter to give the Rebels a 48-40 lead. After a Rebels stop at the other end, Prep guard Maya Okamoto (11 points) iced the game with an offensive rebound with 42 seconds left.
After going into the fourth down by 12, Sacred Heart trailed by double digits until Jenna Tran (eight points) was able to cut the lead to 41-33 with 3:22 remaining. But on the next Rebels possession, Tologs leading scorer Dana Budzyn (12 points) fouled out and Prep went back up by 10 on two free throws by Lacy Coan.
Kelly Fradet was able to give Sacred Heart (3-2) a spark of offense with a short jumper from the left side followed by a three-pointer from the opposite corner with 2:20 that cut the lead to 45-38, but it was the last field goal the Tologs would make.
"None of our shots were falling," first-year Sacred Heart Ty Buxman said. "Our kids had open shots and they wouldn't even take the shots. It was something about their confidence tonight. Some of the younger kids are still trying to figure out when they're allowed to shoot, I guess."
Prep led by six after the first quarter and kept the lead at six through the first five minutes of the second quarter before ending the half on a 9-4 run, with Tyler Faulkner's layup with 19 seconds left putting the Rebels up, 29-18.
In the third quarter the Tologs were held to just five points and saw the Rebels end the period on a 4-0 run capped by Laurie Hayrapetian's finish while being fouled.
"We've sort of had trouble with zone [defense] all year long so far," Buxman said. "We were playing [against] a good, tough zone and not to diminish what they did, but we've got to figure out how to play against a zone and our kids can't pass into that zone, so that makes it tough."