When teams play in the preseason, the games test what each team is capable of doing.
In the case of Head Coach Tamar Hill and the La Cañada varsity girls' basketball squad Tuesday evening at Harvard-Westlake, it was a challenge going up against a team who had won five of their last seven league championships.
Hill and her team could not rebound from a rather shaky start of the contest and dropped a 49-37 loss to the Wolverines.
Overall, the Spartans now post a 3-2 record, and Hill felt that the team has to play one game to beat their opponents, and not a Jekyll-and-Hyde, on-again-off-again seesaw game.
“We started off real bad in the first half and really came into the game really hesitant and really scared on our heals,” Hill said. “And if you do that to any team, they are going to come after you. Our opponents were not doing anything to us, we were doing it to ourselves.
“We were the ones with the turnovers, we were the ones making the mistakes and we have to change to attack in this game.”
Hill had a good reason to be concerned. The Spartans were only one for 10 from the free throw line in the first half. Right from the beginning of the game, the Wolverines came out fierce and La Cañada seemed scared to play and fight their opponents.
Harvard-Westlake held a 13-3 lead at the end of the first period, and extended it further with a 25-9 score at halftime.
But the Spartans improved during the third period, as sophomore point guard Tia Chen began to control the game by taking the initiative and scoring the highest total for her team all night — 16 points, with two three-point shots.
Even Hill was impressed with what the Chen was doing during the contest.
“She had a breakout game and she was running the role of passer, and she was stepping up when we really needed it,” Hill said. “But unfortunately, we could not get our big game going very well.”
La Cañada trailed 35-24 going into the final period, but the Wolverines held control of the remainder of the contest and finished out with a final 12-point victory.
Besides Chen, senior Leeza Sanfilippo finished with seven points, while senior Stephanie Anderson had six. S
enior Bonnie Wilcox had three points, as did sophomore Zoe Kumagai.
Junior Lori Benedetti completed the list of scorers with two.
Despite the loss, Hill did not commend her opponents, claiming that they were making just as many mistakes as her team.
“Our opponents did not play particularly well in the second half either, and they missed many important shots that kept us in pecking order,” Hill said. But she looked to her own team to improve for their next contest against NotreDame on Monday.
“Hopefully we can get rid of our dual personalities for next time,” Hill said.