LA CAÑADA — Having already faced its opponent this season, familiarity gave the Flintridge Prep girls’ basketball team an advantage in its CIF Southern Section Division II-A first-round playoff game against Thousand Oaks on Thursday.
The Rebels were aware of the physicality the Lancers brought around the basket, and although the visitors used that to stay close early in the game, Flintridge Prep was able to stay focused to build on a first-quarter lead.
Flintridge Prep went on a scoring run late in the first quarter and stood out on defense in the second quarter to earn a 56-34 victory against Thousand Oaks.
Flintridge Prep will be on the road for its second-round game at 7 p.m. Saturday against San Andreas League-champion Arroyo Valley (26-3) in San Bernardino.
“We were just trying to come out with a lot of energy in the beginning,” Flintridge Prep co-coach Kevin Kiyomura said. “We played them earlier in the season and we were able to get up on them before the end of the game, so we just wanted to set the tone early and get them a little off balance.”
Powered by junior guard Kaitlyn Chen and sophomore forward Sofia Gonzalez, the Rebels jumped put to 7-0 lead before the Lancers cut the hosts’ lead to one.
Flintridge Prep closed out the first quarter on a 9-0 run for an 18-10 lead at the end of the quarter.
Gonzalez scored all 12 points of her points in the first quarter on five-of-six shooting, while Chen grabbed six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Chen finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five steals for Prep League-champion Flintridge Prep (22-2).
“We knew they were going to come out and play physical, so we were focused and really composed today,” said Chen, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year. “I feel like composure was one of the main components. We didn’t let them get into our heads and we stayed focused on our game plan.”
Thousand Oaks, which finished 13-14 and placed third in the Miramonte League, made just two field goals in the second quarter as Flintridge Prep outscored the Lancers, 18-4.
The Rebels buffered their lead as Chen and junior guard Andie Kim combined on a 10-0 run to build a 33-12 lead.
Both guards posted eight points in the quarter to go into halftime with a 36-14 advantage.
“They were going to try to get the ball in the paint,” said Kiyomura, whose team reached the Division III-A championship game last season. “That’s where most of the scoring is going to come from, so we were trying to keep them out.”
The Rebels’ offense went cold for much of the third quarter, but recovered with 1:31 left in the quarter to take a 47-23 lead.
The Lancers rallied in the final quarter and put up two three-point plays and went on an 8-0 run midway in the frame to cut the Rebels’ lead to 51-34.