BURROUGHS HIGH — The Burbank High girls' basketball team had a primary directive in its Pacific League game Friday against Burroughs: keep the ball out of the hands of Lisha Elsenbach.
Elsenbach, a senior, came into the rivalry contest leading the league in scoring with an average of more than 18 points. Her play helped the Indians to a first-place standing in the league.
The Bulldogs did what they set out to do, as they held Elsenbach to just five points, her lowest total of the season. But the senior wasn't silenced by any means, as she contributed nine rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Luckily for Burroughs, other players stepped up to help carry the scoring load, as the Indians overcame a first-quarter deficit to earn a 50-31 victory at Burroughs.
Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan said Elsenbach resigned herself to the fact that she wasn't going to get many scoring opportunities, so the senior tried to make an impact in other areas.
"She doesn't care how many points she scores," Oganyan said about the guard. "What matters more to her is that we win as a team. She is just such an unselfish player, and if she's not scoring, she will do all she can to get her teammates involved."
If seemed that every time Elsenbach touched the ball she had a Burroughs (16-4, 6-1 in league) defender all over her. The aggressive, physical defense employed by Burbank (12-8, 4-3) was deliberate.
"We wanted to keep the ball away from [Elsenbach] as much as possible," Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden said. "It worked. Unfortunately, they had other players that stepped up and we developed holes in our game plan."
Senior Chelsea Rhamdeow paced the Indians on offense, scoring 14 points. Teammate Alysia Shelmire added 10 points and Justice Shank had 10 points and four steals.
The Bulldogs were playing without starting point guard Evelyn Abrami, who suffered a broken collar bone Tuesday in a game against Pasadena.
In her absence, senior Leah Andriasian stepped up with a game-high 15 points to go along with three steals. Damarie Gonzalez added 10 points and Courtney Seidler had nine rebounds.
"It kind of threw us off not having Evelyn in there," Breeden said. "But I thought Leah did a great job at filling in and taking up some of the slack. Unfortunately, some of other players weren't able to step up as well."
The Bulldogs didn't play particularly well in the first quarter, but were still able to jump out to a 15-10 lead after one.
However, Burroughs battled back and controlled the second quarter, outscoring its opponent, 13-4, to take a 23-19 advantage into the break. It was a strong defensive showing by the Indians that forced the Bulldogs into many low-percentage shots.
"It's all about defense for us," Oganyan said. "We know that we are going to have to play strong defense if we want to win games."
That defense continued to frustrate the Bulldogs in the second half, as the Indians outscored Burbank, 14-7, in the third to take a 37-26 lead into the final quarter.
The last time Burroughs won a league championship was in 1978, and that came in the Foothill League. The Indians have the advantage of playing six of their final eight league games at home.
"We're not even thinking about that right now," Oganyan said about a possible league title. "We just want to focus on the next game."
For Burbank, it will try and bounce back from the rivalry loss.
"We have three tough games next week against Muir, Pasadena and [Crescenta Valley]," Breeden said. "And we're not getting Evelyn back."