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Indians breeze in tourney opener

BURROUGHS HIGH — She scored early and often.

She consistently tracked down rebounds.

She administered the offense and repeatedly set up her teammates for easy baskets.

Shortly after the game, she admitted the team typically isn’t that dominant.

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But after the final seconds ticked off the clock, there was no doubt the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team had just put on a clinic.

Thursday night, Burroughs bested visiting Venice High, 88-35, during a first-round game of the 29th annual Magnolia Park Optimist Club Tournament at Burroughs High.

Ten Indians players scored in the rout, but it was senior point guard Lisha Elsenbach who took the spotlight.

Elsenbach racked up 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals. She was a perfect seven-for-seven at the??? free-throw line and scored ???nine points in the first quarter alone.

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“Tonight, we were just hitting a lot of our shots,” Elsenbach said. “We’re usually not that on. We usually score like 55 [points]. Not 88 [points].”

Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan said she was surprised by the offensive explosion, which was a season-high, but ???added she knew the team was capable of playing up to that level.

“We’ve scored in the 80s before, like last year in league,” Oganyan said. “The way we look [now], it’s just much sharper.”

Burroughs (5-0) advanced to the second round of the tournament, where they will host Calabasas High at 6:30 p.m. today.

The Indians’ 6-foot sophomore center Aysia Shellmire played a big part in the rout, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Owning a clear height advantage, Shellmire dictated most of the action in the middle and near the basket.

“We can’t really get much done unless she’s [Shellmire] doing her job in the post,” said Elsenbach, who earned Most Valuable Player honors in the Valencia High Five Classic two weeks ago. “She needs to be a threat down there or we’re pretty much an easy team to guard. She sets our whole offense, especially on our zone offense, we need her to be a threat so we can get open shots.”

Shellmire says with hard work in practice, Burroughs can deliver similar offensive showcases in future games this season. She started on the varsity team as a freshman and developed parts of her game by watching Elsenbach — an all-league and All-Area performer — shine last year.

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“She’s taught me a lot,” Shellmire said of her teammate. “I just watched her on the bench the whole season, so I learned a lot from her.”

Oganyan added: “The improvement we’ve seen in [Shellmire] the last three or four months, it’s been tremendous.”

With Elsenbach handling point-guard duties on the perimeter and Shellmire emerging as a force down low, the Indians have a formidable one-two punch.

But according to Shellmire, the duo has developed a truly unique rapport.

“We kind of just have a random connection,” she said. “We don’t speak very much unless it’s on the court. We just have a special connection.”

Senior guards Chelsea Rhamdeow and Justice Shank both scored 10 points each against the obviously outmatched Gondoliers (1-5).

Burroughs began the game on a 19-0 run. The Indians used a full-court, man-to-man defense that put pressure on Venice as soon as the ball was tipped off.

The Gondoliers turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, and mustered just five points.

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“We got out, pressured the ball, got steals and made our shots,” Oganyan said.

Venice tried a two-three zone defense against Burroughs, but the Indians attacked it by passing the ball to the free-throw line area, then dumping it down low and to the wings for open looks.

Shellmire netted 13 points in a second quarter surge, helping the Indians to a commanding 52-26 halftime advantage.

Elsenbach assisted Bailee Trotta, who made a short jumper that circled around the rim and dropped in, as the third quarter ended. Burroughs went up,??? 76-33.

Venice scored only two points in the fourth quarter.

Shooting guard Kelli Quak scored a team-high 12 points for the Gondoliers, including three three-pointers.


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