Gaels still struggling, but still fighting

BURBANK — The Holy Family High girls' basketball team managed just six field goals against Louisville Monday morning, but the six shots showed resiliency in a 46-14 loss in the opening round of Providence High's 15th annual Pioneer Shootout. While the Gaels remained winless at 0-8 on the season, Coach Ernest Siy was encouraged by the way his squad refused to give up throughout all four quarters of the contest against a more polished and powerful team.

"I told them in the beginning that Louisville is going to be one of the toughest teams we play all year," Siy said. "As long as we come out and we're trying and the effort is there, I'm going to be happy. And I'm happy with the whole team."

Senior guard Gaby Diaz led the Gaels with six points and four rebounds. The Royals (5-4) were led by 6-foot-1 junior forward Nicholle Aston, who poured in 16 points and pulled down eight boards. But no other Louisville player was able to score in double-digits and strong backcourt pressure by the Gaels resulted in the Royals making just a single triple in the game on a one-for-11 shooting performance behind the arc.

"Our goals were to play in front of the post and contest the jump shot and I thought we did a pretty good job with that," Siy said. "But again, Louisville is a good team, they've got good players and they've got players that can put the ball in the basket. That's really the name of the game."

The Royals found their rhythm early on. A steal taken down for a fastbreak layup made the score 7-0 in the first quarter before Siy called a timeout. After the timeout, Jennifer Rodriguez forced a turnover off an inbound pass, but Diaz was unable to hit the ensuing jumper.

The Gaels did not score until midway through the second quarter when Diaz hit a layup. Holy Family continued its shooting woes, but still showed hustle, forcing turnovers with strong defensive pressure and fighting for every single rebound.

Right before the buzzer sounded at the half, the Gaels were able to get another shot up when Gabriella Portillo dropped in a jumper off a nice feed from Alexandra Mata, making the score 24-4 at the intermission.

In the second half, Louisville was forced to spread the offense around as the Gaels were able to slow Aston down.

"In the beginning, I think our post players were a little timid against their post players," Siy said. "But as soon as we made the adjustment of simply just playing in front of the post players, it made a difference and disrupted their offense a little bit."

But the disruption was not quite enough, as the Gaels' offensive woes continued.

"That's the reason we come to these tournaments — we know we're going to encounter tough teams," said Siy, whose team plays at 9:30 a.m. today against either Carpinteria or Village Christian. "Louisville is several divisions above us and they have a lot more talent than us. So, for us to come out and play a team like that is a learning opportunity for us and it's just going to get us ready for January, when league play comes around."

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