The Flintridge Prep varsity girls’ basketball team won bragging rights for La Cañada Flintridge by defeating intracity rival La Cañada High School, 47-39, in a nonleague game on Monday.
It wasn’t easy for the Wolves, who struggled with the Spartans’ size and trailed 10-6 with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter. La Cañada boasts two players six feet or taller on its roster, including senior standout Lauren Scoville.
“We’re always outsized,” said Flintridge Prep head coach Kevin Kiyomura. “We’re smaller than everybody, so we kind of know how to deal with it. I know they would settle down and relax and start to play our game.”
Flintridge Prep’s Sofia Gonzalez, who committed to Tufts University, took advantage when 6-foot, 3-inch Kylie Sears was taken out of the contest late in the first quarter and scored seven of the Wolves’ next 12 points to help build an 18-13 lead.
A big 3-pointer from Bethany Co kept La Cañada (9-3 overall) within striking distance, but turnovers and missed opportunities allowed the Wolves to pull away and close out the quarter with a 10-2 run to build a 10-point lead.
The Spartans fought back early in the third quarter with Scoville hitting a short jumper followed by a 3-pointer to cut the deficit, 28-24.
The run didn’t rattle Flintridge Prep. On the next possession, Mikaylie Kiyomura responded by draining a 3-pointer from the wing while being fouled. She would go on to convert the free throw to give her team a 32-24 lead.
Normally a guard at 5-8, Gonzalez was often under the basket as the team’s center, a position usually reserved for the tallest players. The senior stepped up with 11 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and one block.
“Sofia this season is taking a huge leadership role, and she has been trusting her teammates,” Kiyomura said. “Right now, it is paying off for us.”
Gonzalez has relished the role and helped teammates Ashlyn Zhang and Maddie Chiu find their rhythm offensively. Zhang scored a team-high 16 points and Chiu added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“Taking over a game, sure that’s a way to lead. Ashlyn and I did that today, but I think being a personable person is more important than anything else in the game of basketball because it shows you have a connection with everybody,” Gonzalez said. “Ultimately, that’s why the best teams win.”
Zhang has clearly earned Gonzalez’s trust. The junior guard was comfortable playing the point and drained a clutch three-pointer with 3:11 remaining in the game that gave the Wolves a 45-35 lead, thwarting a Spartan comeback.
“We keep saying we want to have poise and patience and sometimes you need a shot like that to remind them that they will get those,” Kiyomura said.
La Cañada was unable to penetrate the Wolves zone and shot only 31% from the field.
“They played their zone very well,” said LCHS head coach Owen Keenan. “We missed a couple of easy shots. If we hit them earlier, we could have figured out their defense. They’re a really good program with a good coach.”
Scoville entered Monday’s contest needing only six points to reach 1,000 in her four-year high school career. The senior ended up with 17 points, along with seven rebounds, six steals and three assists, becoming only the fifth player in the program to score 1,000 points. The top four scorers in the history of LCHS girls’ basketball are Melissa Lord (1,625 points), Courtney Chen (1,385), Joy Lelo (1,098) and Yolanda Davidian (1,043).
“She brings it every single night,” LCHS head coach Owen Keenan said of his senior. “She’s been a pleasure to coach. I’ve been coaching 24 years; she’s the best basketball player I’ve ever had. I’ve coached boys and girls. She could get to practice on time once in a while, but other than that, I have no complaints.”
Co chipped in nine points, Melissa Le added seven points, Alyssa Miyamoto netted four and Mia Oakley-Stilson contributed two points.
La Cañada closed the regular season with a 47-16 victory over host Monrovia on Tuesday and finished second in the league standings with a 6-2 record. Keenan was glad to squeeze in a game against a program such as Flintridge Prep before going into the postseason.
“This is a good measuring stick for us because except for South Pasadena, the teams in our league aren’t very strong,” Keenan said. “Whoever we play in the playoffs is probably the caliber of South Pas or Flintridge Prep.
Flintridge Prep (11-0 overall) has secured the Prep League championship with a 7-0 league record entering its final game of the regular season. The Wolves will host Polytechnic in a league game this Friday, May 21, at 6 p.m. before competing in the playoffs next week.