PASADENA — When down and out, the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team strives to fight until the last whistle.
But lately, the Indians haven’t been able to find their footing in that regard and they headed to Pasadena for a crucial Pacific League game Friday.
As Pasadena sat in second place in the Pacific League standings prior to the matchup, the Bulldogs also didn’t let up as they fought to a first-quarter stalemate after a chippy start against the Indians.
But a mini-scoring run in the second quarter intensified the Burroughs’ fight, and the Indians never looked back as they defeated Pasadena, 51-37.
“We told them to settle down and to just follow the game plan and continue to play hard,” Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan said. “That’s our No. 1 thing going into this game is that we have to represent our culture, which our whole identity is that we fight.
“We’ve had some tough breaks in league, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come back, and we have to live up to our culture. That was the main focus of our game plan here besides just strategy.”
The Indians (19-7, 8-4 in league) came into Friday’s game following a 32-29 loss to Crescenta Valley on a half-court, buzzer-beater Tuesday.
With the two teams tied on head-to-head meetings, Burroughs and Pasadena (11-6, 8-4) will have to use the rest of their league schedule to see which team will likely place third or fourth.
Up next, the Indians face unbeaten league opponent Arcadia at home Tuesday before finishing the regular season against Burbank on Thursday.
“This helps our confidence boost because last time was such a close game and seeing that we could’ve blown [Pasadena] out last game, that also gives us another confidence boost for the future,” said Burroughs sophomore Faith Boulanger.
Boulanger led the Indians with 21 points and 15 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive end.
The Indians started with a 5-1 lead with 5:21 left in the first quarter, before the Bulldogs evened it at 5 with 3:53 remaining.
Burroughs struggled to score thereafter, and though the Indians dominated on the offensive glass and had plenty of second-chance opportunities, they couldn’t capitalize on any of their advantages.
In turn, the teams were tied at 9 at the end of the first.
“We just got really warmed up,” said Boulanger, who also tallied three blocks and two steals. “We saw how they were going to play so we made adjustments. We saw that they really only had one good player in [Kamesha Moore] who made us struggle last time because we lost to them by one last time. We thought if we really shut her down, that would really help. [Burroughs’] A’sia [Morales] did a good job doing that and that really helped, too.”
The teams endured scoring droughts until Moore, who finished with eight points and four steals, hit a pair of free throws to tie it again at 11 with 4:59 left in the half. But the Indians responded with a 6-0 run that gave them a 17-11 lead with 3:45 left.
The Bulldogs scored only twice from the field as the Indians closed the half with a 21-15 lead.
“The game plan was to try to stop [Kamesha Moore] because she is a really good player and she really hurt us last game,” Oganyan said. “The [other part of the] game plan was to rebound. I thought the first time we played them, we didn’t do a great job defensively rebounding. And also taking care of the ball.
“We still had a couple of turnovers that were uncalled for, but, in general, we did a good job on those three things.”
The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 24-22 with 4:10 left in the third before Boulanger found her scoring stride. The sophomore posted 12 points on five-of-10 shooting in the quarter and scored the final four Burroughs baskets to give the Indians a 36-27 lead at the end of the frame.
“We were just really aggressive,” Boulanger said. “I came into the second half thinking I needed to score more because I knew I was doing well rebounding and all that, but I knew I didn’t have that many points so I just needed to score more.
“I know the girls were thinking the same thing that we needed to score more if we wanted to win this game.”
Burroughs pulled away, 42-32, with 5:18 left, as Morales gave the Indians support at the line as she hit four of six free throws.
A three-pointer from Nicole Rumfola with 2:02 left gave the Indians a 45-32 lead.