BURBANK — In the first International League meeting of the season in November between the St. Monica Academy and Lycee International of Los Angeles girls' basketball teams, the Crusaders had to hold on for an seven-point victory.
In Thursday's rematch, it wasn't even close.
St. Monica surged out to an early lead to start the game and never trailed throughout, cruising to a 44-12 victory at McCambridge Park Recreation Center in Burbank.
The win kept the four-time defending league champion Crusaders (10-3, 6-0 in league) perfect in league and extended their league winning streak to 40.
In the teams' first meeting Nov. 20, St. Monica won, 35-28.
"It's not even close as to how this team is compared to earlier in the season. They have improved so much." St. Monica coach Owen Keenan said. "In that first game that we played them, it was a nailbiter and we had to hold on for the win. We didn't even get the lead until the fourth quarter.
"But this team has come a long way from that game and the girls really showed that today."
St. Monica, which had 10 players score, was led by Katherine Golbranson, who had eight points and played only in the first half. Elizabeth McCall, Margaret Short and Kristina Turicchi added six points each.
LILA (2-5, 2-3), which placed second in league a season ago, took on the Crusaders with a squad severely depleted because of injury and illness.
The Lions suited up seven players Thursday and coach Marilyn Dubon struggled to get that many healthy bodies, convincing players from other sports to join the team for the game.
"It was very tough," Dubon said. "Some of the players out there today had never even played basketball before. But I give them credit for coming out and helping us all that they could.
"But in that first half I was doing a lot of teaching for some of those players, just trying to help them understand basketball."
That lack of experience likely contributed to 40 turnovers by the Lions. LILA also suffered shooting woes, beginning each of the four quarters with dry spells.
Those troubles opened the door for St. Monica, which jumped out to a 16-0 lead after one quarter. The Lions missed all 12 of their shots from the field in the opening stanza.
In the second quarter, the Crusaders extended their lead to 24-0, as LILA missed its first five field goals and had 11 turnovers in the frame.
The Lions scored their first basket on a shot by Lara Scagni-Tropea with 2:21 remaining to make it 24-2. St. Monica went into halftime leading 26-4.
"We knew they had only seven players, so we wanted to focus on getting off to a quick start," Keenan said. "We were only going to press if it was necessary and it wasn't necessary."
St. Monica increased its advantage to 24-10 after three quarters. LILA missed its first seven field goals in the frame and first six of the fourth.
Grace Eder Von Graeve had four points, 12 rebounds and five blocks and Dylan Priestley had four points and 12 rebounds for LILA.