Playing time may be the most valuable asset that a coach has at their disposal to bring a young team along.
The Edison High girls’ basketball team graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, including the Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year in Finley Garnett.
Needless to say, the Chargers have a much different look this season. It was a guessing game to see how the young team would respond with junior starters Lainey Johnson and Taylor Fullbright in New York for a Model United Nations function.
Edison has acquitted itself quite well, even with four underclassmen receiving regular run as of late.
Freshman guard Gwen Ontiveros had a game-high 19 points and five steals to lead the Chargers to a 59-21 win over Bellflower on Friday in the Vernie Ford Tournament at Fullerton Union High.
After notching a one-point win over Compton the night before, the Chargers (3-3) had three players score in double figures to close out the tournament on a high note.
Junior forward Madison Copeland had 14 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Chargers coach Sara Brown has been complimentary of Copeland, saying that the energy that she brings to the court reminds her of Garnett.
“I try to tell myself that I want to play my hardest,” Copeland said. “First of all, we all have bad games, but if I tell myself that I’m having a bad game and I can’t shoot, I should at least try to contribute heart.
“If I can’t shoot, I will at least try to pass it to someone who can, and I will go three times as hard. If the ball gets past me on a steal or something and I miss it, I’m going to sprint back super hard so I can try to make up for my loss.”
Senior guard Irene Ontiveros, the Chargers’ most experienced returner, added 13 points, five steals, four assists and a blocked shot. The Ontiveros sisters totaled 10 steals for the game.
“We always talk about ferocity and how you can’t give up,” Irene Ontiveros said. “You have to keep going hard, and I think we’ve been doing that. We just have to keep the defense going.”
Gwen Ontiveros and sophomore Brooklyn Chang combined to make six three-pointers, which was a major boost in production from the Edison backcourt.
Edison also had 16 assists in the contest, led by Irene Ontiveros’ four dimes.
“They’re sharing the ball really well,” Brown said. “They’re moving the ball well. That’s one of the things that I’m trying to emphasize this year because we don’t have a main scorer.
“Every game, we have somebody who steps up, which is great, so I’m really emphasizing the fact that we could have multiple girls being a threat.”
Lauryn Thomas had nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks to lead Bellflower (1-9).
In a blowout, the fourth quarter became more of a practice for Edison. Brown had the opportunity to give valuable minutes to her bench, and the Chargers even got a nice surprise in the form of junior Sophie Decker sinking a shot from beyond the half-court line as the final buzzer sounded.
“In a perfect world, you would want to play everybody, and it doesn’t always happen like that,” Brown said. “In games like this, specifically, we want to keep the level of intensity up and work on the things that we need to work on, regardless of what the score is.
“When everyone gets a chance to contribute, that’s the greatest thing. Actually, it’s everybody feeling a part of the team, being a part of the team, and making a difference. Sophie making that shot, that was fun.”
Vernie Ford Tournament
Edison 59, Bellflower 21
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellflower 2 – 4 – 11 – 4 — 21
Edison 8 – 12 – 24 – 15 — 59
B – Thomas 9, Guerra 5, Torres-Vasquez 3, Slaughter 2, Torres 1, Escalona 1.
3-pt. goals – Guerra 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
E – G. Ontiveros 19, Copeland 14, I. Ontiveros 13, Chang 6, Gray 4, Decker 3.
3-pt. goals – G. Ontiveros 4, I. Ontiveros 3, Chang 2, Decker 1.
Fouled out – None.