BURBABK — After an abysmal showing in the first half, Burroughs High girls' basketball Coach Vicky Oganyan simply told her team to live up to its motto — one that is displayed on a poster in the home gym with the words "Tough Enough."
Burroughs trailed by 14 and was shooting the ball at 18.1 percent, while opponent Golden Valley controlled the glass and dictated the pace of the game when the message from Oganyan was relayed to her team.
The Indians responded to their coach and mounted a furious comeback in the second half, making shots and taking on the role of aggressor, as they outscored the Grizzlies by 21 points to win, 65-58, in pool-play game Tuesday in the Burroughs Magnolia Park Optimist Club Tournament.
"I told them to toughen up," said Oganyan, whose squad improved to 5-1 and will advance to play Canyon in the winner's bracket. "We were getting outplayed and outhustled. I told them to live up to the poster, and if that's your identity then play like it."
Confidence and aggression translated into a more in-sync offense that resulted in more made field goals for Burroughs in the third quarter (seven) than it had in the first half (six).
The Indians ended the third quarter strong, scoring eight unanswered points to cut the Grizzlies lead to 45-39. The momentum carried over to the fourth where the higher level of energy showed in the frame's opening possession.
Davina Del Castillo put in two of her 12 points, while absorbing a foul. The junior missed the free throw, but grabbed her own offensive rebound to keep the possession alive. Brooke Radcliff was also fighting inside, and followed Del Castillo's missed shot with a basket to bring the Indians to within two points, 45-43.
Minutes later, Kamryn Cardenaz tied the score for the first time since it was 2-2 early in the first quarter. Later, Alondra Ramirez gave Burroughs its first lead of the game with a pair of free throws, giving the Indians a 50-49 advantage midway through the final frame.
The charity stripe played a big part in the game, with the Indians making 17 of 28 attempts. The Grizzlies struggled from the line, missing 12 free throws in the second half.
Burroughs would not trail after Ramirez's trip to the stripe, as they overwhelmed Golden Valley with suffocating defense and dominated the glass on both ends to cruise to the victory.
"We switched to a half-court press, and Golden Valley had a tough time," said Oganyan, whose team forced 14 second-half turnovers.
Moreover, the Indians' more potent offense resulted in nearly 50 percent shooting, connecting on 18 of 38 field-goal attempts. Oganyan said it is all a result of higher intensity.
"Part of the reason our shots weren't going in is because we were playing timid," she said. "I told them 'Why are we not going hard?' Once we started to attack, didn't think and played basketball, the shots started going in."
Sienna Brown provided a big spark of the bench for the Indians in the fourth quarter, scoring all six of her points in the stanza. The center also pulled down six rebounds.
Radcliff matched Del Castillo with 12 points. Del Castillo finished with a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds. Ramirez followed up with 11 points and six rebounds. Delaney Nicol dished out seven assists to lead the Indians.
"The energy changed in the second half," Ramirez said. "We came out with more momentum.
Golden Valley's Mariah Madison and Caitlyn Zindroski led all scorers with 15 points apiece.
Burroughs will face Canyon in the winner's bracket on Thursday. The Cowboys defeated Glendale earlier on Tuesday evening and are undefeated at 3-0.