Shortly after being named the new co-coaches of the Flintridge Prep girls’ basketball team last spring, Kevin Kiyomura and Jayme Kiyomura-Chan began to comb through their player personnel.
The coaching duo inherited a team filled with potential after the Rebels advanced to the playoffs under former coach Todd Frost in 2012. Kiyomura and Kiyomura-Chan wanted to shape the returning talent while also forming a strong nucleus for the next several years.
Flintridge Prep stayed the course, relying on a trio of underclassmen in Maya Okamoto, Tala Ismail and Lacy Coan to play huge roles in helping it finish second in the Prep League before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA semifinals and making an appearance in the CIF State Division V Championships.
For their contributions, Okamoto, Ismail and Coan received all-league accolades after helping the Rebels go 19-9, 9-3 in league and reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2008.
Okamoto and Ismail were named to the first team, while Coan earned a spot on the second team.
“They all grew as they understood what Jayme and I were trying to teach them,” said Kiyomura, whose team fell to Reedley Immanuel in the first round of the state tournament. “All three of them brought something to the floor for us.
“The only thing we knew when we took over was that we had Maya coming back and she was coming off of a knee injury last offseason.”
Okamoto, a junior guard, regained her stamina and set the table for the Rebels by providing leadership and a keen sense of court awareness.
Okamoto averaged 8.8 points per game. She finished with a team-high 46 assists and contributed 56 steals to lead the Rebels’ transition game.
“Maya led the team from the start and did so by keeping everybody together,” Kiyomura said. “She had the most basketball experience.”
Ismail, a freshman guard, complimented Okamoto well on the court.
Ismail averaged a team-high 11.3 points and 3.3 steals per game. In addition, Ismail led the team in steals with 92. She also collected 134 rebounds and 45 assists.
“With Tala, she’s got all of the physical attributes to do anything,” Kiyomura said. “We knew she would be something special from the time we first saw her last summer.
“She had a lot to learn from that time because she wasn’t used to playing at the varsity level. She’s athletic and held her own for a first-year player.”
Coan, a sophomore forward, enjoyed a respectable first season with the Rebels after transferring from the Seattle area.
Coan led the team in rebounding with 167 and steals (56). She averaged 6.3 points and two steals per contest.
“Lacy was probably our most consistent player,” Kiyomura said. “You look at her stat line and you knew what you’d get because you could always count on her. Lacy worked well with Tala. She flew under the radar for most of the season.
“Its sad to see our seniors going because they made things easier for the underclassmen. We feel like we have got something going here to build on for next year with Maya, Tala and Lacy.”