Burroughs High girls' basketball finds its stride in winning playoff opener

BURBANK — For many of the Burroughs High girls' basketball players, they had never experienced what it's like to get a win in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

That's because coming into Saturday night's Division I-A first-round game, the Indians hadn't posted a postseason win since 2011. That year Burroughs advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to Inglewood.

It might have been some playoff jitters that affected Burroughs in its opener at home against Riverside Poly. The Indians were shaky in the first quarter and couldn't seem to get into a rhythm.

However, the Indians began to pull out of their funk in the second quarter, and by the second half they took control and dominated the game en rout to a 66-47 victory against the visiting Bears.

"We were nervous in the beginning and we really weren't playing our game because of it," said Burroughs senior Sidney Ortega. "And some of us had never won a playoff game. This is my first playoff win in basketball."

Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan had her idea about the slow start by her Indians that saw them lead just 11-9 after the first quarter.

"It was not a good first quarter for sure," said Oganyan, whose team was four of 17 shooting (26 percent) in the opening stanza. "Having not played in a week might have had something to do with it. You really can't do a lot of contact stuff in practice and you can't really simulate a real game in practice. So, I think it took them a quarter to get back into the flow."

The victory keeps the streaking Indians (23-6) alive in the postseason, as the squad has won 16 games in a row. But things look to get more difficult for the two-time defending Pacific League champions in the second round. With Chino winning its playoff opener Saturday, the Indians will be on the road Wednesday. Chino (23-3), the 11th seed, is the Mt. Baldy League champion.

""We are going to have to be in the road against a good team," Oganyan said. "We are going to have to be ready."

After surviving in the opening frame, the Burroughs defense began to hound the Riverside Poly (12-16) ballhandlers in the second quarter. In the game, the Indians forced 20 turnovers. It was in the second when the Indians began to take control of the game.

As a result, Burroughs went into halftime with a 26-16 lead.

The Indians came out motivated in the third quarter. That is when Ortega — who struggled with her three-point shooting earlier in the game — began to catch fire. Ortega, who finished with 18 points, had two three-pointers in the third and tallied four in the game. She finished the third quarter with eight points.

"When I came out of the game after I missed some shots my coach just told me to keep shooting the threes," Ortega said. "Then I started making the shots."

Leading the defensive charge was junior Davina Del Castillo, who collected five steals to go along with 12 points. Burroughs as a team had 20 steals. Senior teammate Jakarra Waddell added eight points and nine rebounds.

Though the Indians added only one point to their lead after three quarters, 44-33, it appeared Riverside Poly was wearing down. The team did get a solid effort from sophomore Delacy Brown, who poured in a game-high 24 points to go along with five steals.

The fourth quarter was all Indians, as they enjoyed a 20-point lead, 62-42, with 2:59 remaining.

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