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Flintridge Prep girls’ basketball catches Dolphins late

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — In a contest that featured 33 fouls, 49 turnovers and a 22% combined shooting percentage, what separated the Chadwick School and Flintridge Prep girls’ basketball teams in Saturday evening’s Prep League contest may have just been a nudge of momentum.

Fortunately for the host Rebels, they scored eight of the game’s final nine points in defeating the Dolphins, 36-29.

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“Right now, the school is in exam time and we haven’t had much playing time,” Rebels Coach Kevin Kiyomura said. “We’ve had a rough two weeks being off with the holiday and since then it’s just about getting back into the swing. That’s what we had to do today, too.”

Flintridge Prep (10-3 overall, 3-0 in league) shot 24% (15 of 53) from the field and 17% (three of 18) from the free-throw line, but found itself tied at 28 with the Dolphins (1-10, 0-6) after a jumper from Chadwick’s Maddie Culver-Kerr, who finished with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, with 3:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.

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Less than 20 seconds later, though, the Rebels took the lead for good on a slashing layup from freshman Tala Ismail, who took the ball 18 feet from the basket and split two defenders for the game-winning bucket at 3:24 that put the home team ahead, 30-28.

After a Dolphins turnover, Ismail helped ice the game when she positioned herself four feet from the basket, received a pass from cutting forward Lacy Coan (three steals) and scored to give the Rebels a 32-28 advantage with 2:15 remaining.

Chadwick momentarily stunted the Rebels’ progress when freshman guard Taylor Johnson sank a free throw with 1:35 to bring the Dolphins within a field goal.

Yet again, Ismail was the catalyst for the team’s next basket, this time feeding Kinsey Thompson (four blocks) for an inside basket with 1:15 left that put Flintridge Prep up, 34-29.

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Chadwick’s final chance to make a comeback failed on its next possession when the team was called for a 30-second shot clock violation.

“It was awesome to get this win. We really wanted it,” said Ismail, who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals. “That’s all we talked about at halftime – winning.”

For a while, it seemed as if the Dolphins would play the perfect spoiler as Chadwick led, 19-9, with 1:17 left in the first half after a steal and layup from Culver-Kerr.

Yet, the Rebels scored six of the next seven points to close the half down, 20-15. That was despite committing 16 of the team’s total 22 turnovers.

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Flintridge Prep opened the third quarter scoring the first six points, including a four-footer from senior guard Grace Cha off an assist from Maya Okamoto with 2:40 left in the quarter that put the Rebels up, 21-20.

“It felt great to finally get that lead. We’d been on a slump and it was nice to get ahead,” said Okamoto, who finished with a team-high 15 points. “When we started playing, we played well and it was rewarding.”

Flintridge Prep closed the third up, 25-22, and took its largest advantage up until that point at 28-24 with 5:40 left in the fourth on a big three-pointer from Okamoto.

To its credit, Chadwick responded with a pair of free throws and a jumper from Culver-Kerr to pull even.

With the win, the Rebels already surpassed their win total of two games in league from last season.

“It’s been exciting. We’ve been working hard,” Okamoto said. “It’s nice to finally get going.”


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