SOUTH PASADENA — Ivy Fitzgerald of the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls' basketball team came into the summer season looking to build some confidence after being hampered by an injury in 2010-11.
Fitzgerald stored up plenty of faith in her three-point jumper in a summer league game against La Cañada High at South Pasadena on Wednesday. The incoming senior proved to be the difference for the Tologs. She scored 17 points, 15 of them coming on three-pointers, in a 41-28 win over the Spartans.
"We have been pushing her," Sacred Heart Coach Gino Pacella said. "We are trying to instill a lot of confidence in her. She's a four-year varsity player and she got hurt last year so she's had a long road … but this year we think she can put up some nice numbers."
The Tologs started out the game on a 14-0 run. Six of those points came from Fitzgerald behind the arc.
"Gino has been telling me lately to take that hard shot and shoot over the girls so I took this opportunity to do that and it worked out well," said Fitzgerald, who finished the first half with nine points. "It's great confidence building because last year I didn't play much at all. Right now, anything is good."
La Cañada didn't knock down its first bucket until more than seven minutes had gone off the clock. Spartans Coach Tamar Hill said her team was taking good shots, but they just weren't falling.
"That's the difference in the game," Hill said. "[Fitzgerald] goes six for seven and we go one for 20 or something. If she doesn't hit six for seven it's a different game."
The Spartans battled their way back into the contest, going on a 13-5 run to close out the first half down, 19-13.
"A lot of our issues are just consistency," Hill said.
Nora Welch and Lana Haddad both scored quick buckets to open the second half and widen the Tologs' lead to 23-13. Haddad finished the game with six points, as did La Cañada's Lauren Barsamian.
The Spartans managed to continue to make a run at the deficit, cutting it to 30-24 with about 10 minutes left in the game before Fitzgerald sucked the air out of the room with two more three-pointers to give her team a commanding 36-24 lead.
"We started making turnovers, which let them back into it, but our team is strong enough to take it back," Fitzgerald said.
Courtney Chen did what she could to keep La Cañada in the game. She finished the game with 11 points, nine of them coming in the second half.
"[Chen's] a playmaker and she can make things happen," Hill said. "She's very difficult to guard for other teams because she can get in there and split defenses. She's looking better and better."
Despite the loss, there was no doubt La Cañada has made strides this summer.
"We still have some work to do but it's gotten a lot better. We are playing better team offense. We just got to get our shots to fall and it will be alright — and start guarding shooters," Hill said with a chuckle.