BURBANK — While the Holy Family basketball team was plainly outscored and outrebounded in the second half of Wednesday afternoon's Providence High Pioneer Shootout consolation game, much of what separated the Gaels from Canoga Park over the final 16 minutes couldn't be quantified in the box score.
Quicker to every loose ball and defensive rotation, the Hunters simply outworked the discouraged Gaels, who saw a two-point halftime deficit slip away into a 41-31 loss.
"It was the hustle factor," Holy Family Coach Ernest Siy said. "Canoga Park, you could tell, they wanted the ball more than we did and they were a little bit more aggressive on the defensive side and definitely on the boards, a lot more aggressive than we were.
"We can't afford to be passive and that was really the key to the game."
The game began to get away from Holy Family (1-8), which was led by 12 points from Clarizza Merino and eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists from Gayle Lachica, during the early stages of the third period.
Canoga Park's 20-18 lead grew to 26-18 by the 5:30 mark after center Kelsey Aitken (16 points) went to work in the paint, scoring on a layup, a putback and getting to the line for a pair of free throws.
The Gaels got back within 26-22 at the 4:00 mark on a fast-break finish by Gaby Diaz, but Canoga Park (1-8) pushed the lead into double digits for the first time at the 2:00 mark when Tiffani Walker turned a steal into a quick two. Holy Family turned the ball over 22 times, although Canoga Park did give it back 21 times.
"They broke [our press], to their credit and they used [Aitken] to score the easy layups," Siy said. "We couldn't rotate quick enough on the weak side, so that's why we took the press off."
A three-pointer by Marcela Mota two minutes into the fourth period put the Hunters up, 37-25, and Holy Family could never really make a move to get back in the game thereafter.
Lachica's drive with two minutes left was the last score of the game for either squad.
"We got frustrated," said Siy, whose team will conclude the tournament at 9:30 a.m. today against New Roads for 15th place. "For some reason, our girls showed up today physically, but mentally they weren't here."