Rebels left behind by running Lancers

PASADENA — A significant post presence and dominant transition game on the part of the La Salle High girls’ basketball team doomed Flintridge Prep early on, as the Lancers downed the Rebels, 71-25, Wednesday night at the La Salle gym.

The Lancers came out of the gate firing, amassing a 21-2 lead in just the first quarter and forcing the Rebels to play catch-up throughout the entire contest. It was a game plan that was executed almost exactly as planned, according to La Salle Coach Kevin Cormier.

“Some of the things that we wanted to execute tonight, like running the floor and getting good rebounds and stuff like that got us off to a good start,” Cormier said. “It kind of knocked them on their heels right away, which we wanted to do. We were kind of able to dictate our tempo to them all night, which was a good thing for us.”

The running game worked particularly well for the Lancers. Leading, 48-17, in the third quarter, a three-pointer by Sarah Kopcha, who led all players with 20 points and three steals, sparked a rally that then led to a stretch of four straight fastbreak baskets and an 11-0 run.

“They execute really well in transition,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Todd Frost. “It wasn’t a case of them getting a ton of shots; they were getting a lot of layups. They’d steal the ball and just run down the floor and get a layup out of it.

“That’s what they do, that’s what they want to do and that’s what they’re good at.”

Frost cited the transition play, as well as the Lancers’ size advantage, as the main reasons behind the Rebels’ struggles. The Lancers boast a roster that consists of five players at 6-foot or taller, including senior post Diamond Ridley-Smith, who tops the list at 6-2.

The Rebels, on the other hand, have no true post players and carry a roster with just four forwards. Lacking in the post, the Rebels relied mostly on perimeter shooting that was streaky at best, with the exception of point guard Maya Okamoto, who hit a game-high five threes.

“We do shoot a lot of threes,” Frost said. “We tried to get it inside, but when they are four or five inches taller than you at every position, that’s where the openings are.”

The sophomore Okamoto, a 2011 All-Prep League selection, couldn’t be contained, scoring 19 points, 15 coming from behind the arc.

“A lot of teams have problems with her on the perimeter,” Frost said. “You might see that she scores a lot of points, but then you see her walk on the court and see that’s she’s like 5-feet tall, and say, ‘How is she so good?’”

Sierra Bononi added 11 points and seven rebounds for La Salle, while Caroline Knop also contributed eight points and three steals to the Lancers’ cause.

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