BURBANK — The Burbank High girls' basketball team faced a unique and unexpected opponent Wednesday evening in its own summer league.
After inviting and playing the likes of nonleague teams like Saugus, Harvard-Westlake, La Salle and Immaculate Heart, the Bulldogs took their home floor against an international club team — Santa Monica Surf International, hailing from France — in a Burbank Summer League contest.
And while the 39-33 final score didn't favor the Bulldogs, co-Coach Dean Bauer had nothing but praise for his squad and will savor the experience as Burbank starts looking ahead to the regular season.
"I'm proud of the team," said Bauer, who is at the helm with Bruce Breeden this season. "They played with heart and with emotion. They're all amazing, and we straight competed, top to bottom."
Bauer and Breeden looked on as the Bulldogs tried to counter their size disadvantage with speed on the perimeter. Ultimately, Santa Monica Surf International's size prevailed.
"It's good experience," Santa Monica Surf International Coach Fabrice Sene said. "We're learned how to play together, learning positioning. We want to be ready for our tournament in San Diego later this month."
The team from France struggled early on, as well as through the first half, but used a 14-1 run in the second half to regain the lead from Burbank. The guests used that to gain momentum, outscoring the Bulldogs, 26-13, in the 20-minute frame.
Burbank senior guard Ashley Linda led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Linda, Ani Temurian and Ratiana Karapet were instrumental in forcing 14 first-half turnovers, which helped give Burbank a 20-13 lead going into the break.
The Bulldogs didn't sustain the momentum in the second half, however, and succumbed to Santa Monica Surf International's full-court press. Burbank's first field goal of the half came at the 7:30 mark when Linda cut the deficit to 29-23.
Abby Troy's free throw and Karapet's layup brought the Bulldogs to within three. That would be the closest the Bulldogs came, however, as Santa Monica Surf International answered each time and closed out the game, scoring six of the final eight points.
"They had the height, we had the speed," Linda said. "We couldn't out fight them on the post game, but our transition game was good. We pressured the ball and were able to get some steals."
Troy complemented well with seven points. Temurian, Karapet and Linda each connected on a three-point field goal, but second half adjustments from Sene prevented Burbank from getting good looks from behind the arc.
"They shut down our curl in the second half," Bauer said. "It was good coaching, that was their run. On offense, they started putting the ball in."