The Flintridge Prep varsity girls’ basketball team witnessed firsthand the biggest reason for Beverly Hills’ success, and there wasn’t much the Rebels could do to overcome it.
The reason was sophomore Chantal Moawad, a 6-foot, 2-inch center who was relentless under the rim and scored eight of the No. 2-seeded Normans’ final 10 points to lift her team over the Rebels, 50-46, in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A championship at Colony High School in Ontario last Saturday.
No. 4-seeded Flintridge Prep was denied a second crown in three years and its 19-game win streak was snapped by Beverly Hills.
“I think tonight they were the better team,” said Rebels’ co-coach Jayme Chan. “Kudos to those two monsters [Michelle Duchemin and Moawad] on the boards. They were relentless on the rebounds. I love that. Every team needs one. Unfortunately for us today, they were getting second and third chances and they were finishing them. That’s why they won the basketball game.”
The Rebels (24-7 overall record) were outrebounded, 52-38, by the Normans (25-5 overall), who won the Division 4A championship last year.
“They just have the players and we weren’t boxing out,” said Prep star Kaitlyn Chen, who scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. “It was a combination of it. It was hard to box them out because they were a lot quicker and stronger.”
Beverly Hills tallied 22 offensive rebounds in the contest and scored 17 points off them. Moawad led the charge with 12 offensive rebounds (25 total) and 14 points, but found herself in foul trouble late in the first half.
Flintridge Prep quickly took advantage of Moawad going to bench and went on a 6-0 run to take a 22-18 lead with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter.
The Rebels seemed to have found their groove offensively with Sofia Gonzalez on the court, but Duchemin scored four of her 15 points in the final 26 seconds of the first half to tie the game, 22-22, and not allow Flintridge Prep to pull away.
Senior Megan Saghian scored all of her eight points in the third quarter to give Beverly Hills a 37-33 advantage going into the fourth.
Chen took over in the final eight minutes, and scored four consecutive points midway through the quarter to give Flintridge Prep a 39-37 lead.
Moawad was clutch down the stretch and gave the Normans a four-point lead with 43 seconds remaining, but Chen didn’t give up and drained a big 3-pointer to cut the deficit, 47-46.
After two free throws from Moawad, Flintridge Prep co-coach Kevin Kiyomura called a timeout to set up a play with 9.1 seconds remaining.
Chen took the ball and ran down the right side of the court. She shot the ball well beyond the arc looking for contact and a foul, but there was no whistle from the referee and the ball didn’t hit the rim.
“I heard the coach yelling, ‘Foul,’ so I assumed [the defender] was going to foul, but I rushed and she didn’t foul,” Chen said. “It was a bad shot.”
Arbri Gillis of Beverly Hills grabbed the loose ball and hit one free throw to secure her team’s victory.
“I want to get the last four minutes back,” Chan said. “I wish we could have rebounded better. All those things and our shots weren’t falling tonight.”
Chen led Prep with 19 points and seven rebounds and Gonzalez chipped in 13 points and six rebounds. Maddy Manning had six points, Andie Kim totaled five points and Alex Kyriakakis finished with two points and 11 rebounds.
“I want to give credit to Flintridge Prep,” said Beverly Hills coach John Braddell. “They played outstanding. What an outstanding ball game they played. We worked all week on trying to stop Kaitlyn and she is as advertised. We did everything we possibly could to shut her down.”
The Rebels’ season continued in the CIF State playoffs as they hosted Mater Dei of Chula Vista on Wednesday at St. Francis High School in a Division 3 first-round contest.