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Staunch defense lifts Flintridge Prep girls’ basketball past Westridge

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Westridge’s Ileia Gibbs gets caught in the middle of a double team with Flintridge Prep’s Ashley Chea and Alex Kyriakakis in a Prep League girls’ basketball game at Westridge on Thursday.
(Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

PASADENA — In its Prep League girls’ basketball contest against Westridge, the Flintridge Prep squad and freshman Ashley Chea forced the Tigers into uncomfortable possessions and facilitated their offense with ease.

Behind a strong all-around effort from Chea in the third quarter, the Rebels scored 30 points and the Tigers committed 10 turnovers.

Flintridge Prep collected 24 steals Thursday, as the Rebels rolled to a 65-17 win against host Westridge to recorded its 50th consecutive league victory.

“All week, that’s what we’ve been working on,” Flintridge Prep co-coach Jayme Kiyomura Chan said. “We haven’t really touched the ball in practice at all. Not so much stealing the ball, but that’s going to be a by-product of moving on the fly with the ball, and so that’s the reward. Obviously, it set us up on transition offense for us, which we love.”

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Flintridge Prep’s Kaitlyn Chen drives and shoots against Westridge’s Cassandra Kuo in a Prep League girls’ basketball game at Westridge School in Pasadena on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News Press)

Chea racked up the most takeaways with nine steals and led all scorers with 25 points. The freshman also handed out seven assists.

“I think the way we practice translates to our game through our defense, how we move the ball and how we talk to one another,” said Chea, who registered 16 points and six steals in the third quarter. “We have a lot of [mental] lapses, but I think when we talk to one another on the court and off the court and cheering for each other just boosts our confidence.”

Rebels senior Kaitlyn Chen and senior Alex Kyriakakis chipped in with 10 points each.

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Westridge received six points from sophomore Ileia Gibbs and five points apiece from sophomore Isabella Man and senior Keira Myles. Tigers junior Mia Hakian pulled down 10 rebounds.

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Flintridge Prep’s Olivia Stevens battles for a loose ball against Westridge’s Isabella Man and Ileia Gibbs in a Prep League girls’ basketball game at Westridge School in Pasadena on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News Press)

The Rebels’ early defensive pressure put them up, 10-0, midway in the opening quarter.

A free throw from Myles finally got the Tigers on board at 3:41 in the quarter before a three-pointer from Man cut the Rebels’ lead to 10-4.

“Transitions are always a focus for us,” said Chen, who also recorded five rebounds, seven assists and four steals. “It’s always been. We were able to regain our focus, which was important. We can’t be losing it that easily.”

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Flintridge Prep’s Noe Tamura pulls up and shoots a floater against Westrdige in a Prep League girls’ basketball game at Westridge School in Pasadena on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News Press)

Flintridge Prep (15-4, 5-0 in league) regrouped and its defensive pressure forced three Westridge turnovers en route to a 14-0 run to finish the quarter with a 24-4 lead. Chea contributed seven points on the run.

Westridge (4-7, 1-5) took advantage of the Flintridge Prep’s second unit and a Rebels’ scoring drought in the second quarter to pull within 24-10 with 3:30 left in the half.

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“Our focus this year has been playing better defense,” Kiyomura Chan said. “The reason for that is that we know we’ll have opportunities to score. How are we going to use games like these in to help us in the playoffs where we really need to put the focus on the defensive end of the floor? Better positioning, getting a lot of stops and not allowing offensive rebounds.

“That’s been a major focus of ours and we felt like we weren’t doing that in the first four [minutes] or the second four. That’s what it kind of was about.”

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Flintridge Prep’s Sofia Gonzalez drives and shoots against Westridge in a Prep League girls’ basketball game at Westridge School in Pasadena on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News Press)

The Rebels scored their first basket of the second quarter with 1:42 left off of a three-point play from Kyriakakis. The senior scored all seven of the team’s second-quarter points to go into the break leading, 31-12.

Back-to-back baskets from Rebels junior Sofia Gonzalez extended the Flintridge Prep lead to 35-12 to start the second half.

After a put-back basket from Gibbs at the 6:19 mark, the Rebels went on a 15-0 run that lasted nearly four minutes. Chea scored eight points in the Rebels’ scoring spurt.

Myles stopped the bleeding with a Tigers basket with 2:09 left, but the Rebels finished the quarter with six unanswered points for a 61-16 lead. The Rebels outscored the Tigers, 30-4, in the quarter.

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Flintridge Prep’s Kaitlyn Chen and Westridge’s Mia Hakian battle for a rebound in a Prep League girls’ basketball game at Westridge School in Pasadena on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News Press)
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