Flintridge Sacred Heart basketball starting to come together

BURBANK — It was the final day of Burbank High girls’ summer basketball league action, giving Flintridge Scared Heart Academy one more opportunity to show off its still-developing defense prowess and further develop team chemistry in a matchup against Immaculate Heart in the main gym.

“They are starting to learn each other,” Flintridge Scared Heart Academy Coach Ty Buxman said. “Defensively, at the beginning of [summer league], our outside defense was awful and that is starting to pick up. ...They are starting to communicate and not get completely lost.”

That team defense was on full display Wednesday as the Tologs thoroughly overwhelmed the Pandas from start to finish, winning, 33-16.

“On defense we’re playing, we’re talking to each other, which is a big difference. Offensively we’re started to move and when that happens it happens,” Buxman said of his team’s dominant performance.

Flintridge Scared Heart kept a lid on its opponent’s basket for the first seven minutes of the contest. The Tologs kept at it, disrupting the Pandas offense and exposing a lack of ball handling to lead, 19-6, at the break with Immaculate Heart’s final hoop coming with under a minute to go.

“I think we played better defense than we normally have,” Tolog Ellie DiPietro said. “We were a lot quicker on our feet.”

The Tologs scored the first eight points of the game to take control early, despite a height advantage that the Pandas front court appeared to have, but was unable to exploit. DiPietro got it started with a steal in the backcourt and a quick bucket. Casey Johnson followed with another backcourt theft and quick hoop. Maddie Wirthlin then rebounded a teammate’s errant shot and put it in. Jenna Tran finished the opening barrage with a steal of her own, followed by a drive to the hoop for two more and an 8-0 advantage from which they would not look back.

“We are definitely more aggressive attacking the hoop and going for the steal [and] the loose balls on the ground,” Tolog Sarah Lund said.

Tran led all scorers with 13 points, split over the two 20-minute running-clock halves with seven and six points, respectively. She also made the only three-point basket of the game off an inbounds play in the second half.

“I think throughout this league we have been progressing and learning to work as a team because we lost three seniors and they were really crucial to our team,” Tran said. “We’re just bonding more on the court and off the court.”

Flintridge Scared Heart had seven players score with DiPietro, Johnson, Wirthlin and Lund tying for second on the squad with four points apiece.

“Sophomores now, Jenna and Casey are always leaders for us,” Buxman said, “sort of pushing tempo.”

Immaculate Heart’s best play on both sides of the floor came from the Sam Parham. The forward led her squad with seven points and was the only Panda to score in both halves and make more than one field goal. Parham had four of the Pandas’ six points in the first half, when she also recorded two blocks.

Flintridge Scared Heart saw its advantage shrink to 10 early in the second half before Wirthlin assisted Kelly Fradet on a jumper to push it back to 12. The lead peaked in the waning minutes of the game at 18.

The Tologs, now done with Burbank league play, have one summer engagement left when they will play in the San Diego Classic this weekend.

“We’re headed to San Diego for the classic this weekend, then that will be it for the summer,” Buxman said.

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