Lisha Elsenbach helped lead her Burroughs High girls’ basketball team to an accomplishment no other squad in program history was able to accomplish in more than three decades — capturing a league championship.
The senior and her Indians accomplished that feat Tuesday, easily defeating Hoover to clinch the outright Pacific League title, the program’s first in 33 years.
But a day after the monumental milestone, Elsenbach had not allowed herself to sit back and relish the moment, or even let herself contemplate the gravity of the championship. Instead, she had something else on her mind.
“It doesn’t really feel like we won it yet, because we still have a game to play,” Elsenbach said Wednesday. “After we win on Thursday, then I’ll be able to enjoy it.”
That Thursday matchup was a game against cross-town rival Burbank, the Pacific League finale for both teams. Burroughs took care of business, handily defeating the Bulldogs, 44-24.
With the regular season over, Elsenbach could finally savor the Burroughs championship.
“It feels really good, because it’s something that we’ve been working on for a long time,” Elsenbach said. “This is something that we really wanted.”
Helping her team to a league crown is just one in along list of accomplishments for Elsenbach this season with the Indians. In fact, the senior has become one of the most prolific players in school history.
Burroughs (23-5, 13-1 in league) — tied for fourth in this week’s CIF Southern Section Division II-AA poll — set a record for wins in a season with the victory against Burbank.
A multi-talented athlete who can play a variety of positions, Elsenbach is as valuable of a threat on defense as she is on offense. Against the Bulldogs on Thursday, she had nine steals.
“I really like to play tough defense,” she said. “We are a defensive team, and if we don’t play good defense then we’re probably not going to win.”
But it is on offense where Elsenbach has shined brightest.
She is second on the all-time Burroughs career scoring list with 1,241 points, trailing only Gracie Coronado (1,327). In addition, she’s 10 assists shy of the single-season assists record of 102 set by Tulyah Gaines.
This season, Elsenbach has scored in double figures in 26 of 28 of Burroughs’ games and led the league in scoring average with 27 points a game. She also averages 3.9 assists, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals a game.
“Since her freshman year, Lisha has improved every season,” Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan said. “She has gotten more confident and I think the biggest thing that she’s picked up is that she has more of a court vision and more of an all-around game. She has also gotten a lot stronger.”
When the Indians need a big shot, they inevitably turn to Elsenbach. And why not? She has scored 20 or more points 10 times this season.
But Elsenbach doesn’t always take the shot when she’s open. An unselfish player, Oganyan has to often tell her to shoot when she sees an opportunity.
“We had to tell her that we need her to shoot 15 to 20 times a game for us to be successful,” Oganyan said. “I think that just by nature she is very humble, very modest and very unselfish. She’s really not concerned about chasing records, or scoring 20 points a game. She isn’t going to brag about her accomplishments, and she makes her teammates feel like they are all on the same level, and she’s no better than they are.”
With Elsenbach leading the way, the Indians won the Valencia High Five Classic in December for the second straight season. She earned tournament most-valuable-player honors.
In the same tournament in 2009, Elsenbach set Burroughs school records for most points in a game (46), most three-pointers in a game (eight) and most field goals made in a game (16).
One person who has seen his share of talented girls’ basketball players come through Burroughs is assistant coach Bill Dunaway. Dunaway has assisted five Indians coaches and has been on the bench for nearly 15 years.
He has high praise for Elsenbach.
“She is right up there as one of the best,” he said. “She is just so fundamentally sound, she listens and she is always willing to learn. She has really no ego at all and she is just a great person.”
Elsenbach said she credits Oganyan and the Burroughs coaching staff for helping her develop her skills. Although she said Oganyan always has the Indians prepared for their opponents, her coach does get nervous at times during games.
“She gets majorly stressed,” Elsenbach said. “The more we would win, and the more we got close to winning a league title, the more stressed out she would get. She would be even more stressed than us players. But she’s a good coach.”
With the regular season concluded, Elsenbach — who said she is leaning toward signing with Cal Poly Pomona — said she and the Indians will now focus on the playoffs. In Oganyan’s seven years as a coach, Burroughs hasn’t been able to get past the first round.
Elsenbach wants to change that.
“We want to win at least two playoff games,” she said. “I think we have the talent on this team to do that.”
With her impressive list of accomplishments, there’s no doubt that Elsenbach will do all that she can to help her team reach that goal.
And maybe if Burroughs does make a deep postseason run, Elsenbach will allow herself to enjoy the moment — at some point or another.