Buoyed by a dominant second half performance, girls basketball (8-7) swept past the El Camino Wildcats (5-7) 52-30.
Although the Falcons began the game stagnant on offense, an aggressive defense made up for it.
Through a combination of contested shots, forced jump balls and a full court press, the Falcons kept the Wildcats at bay.
After forcing three jump balls in the first two minutes, the Falcons drove down the court and got the ball to shooting guard Alexandra Babakanian (12) who knocked down a corner three for a 4-1 Falcon lead.
Although Rachel Shen (12) was able to draw a charge on the next possession, the rest of the quarter was largely a disappointment for the Falcons as their shots would not fall and they only led 8-5 by the end of the quarter.
“After the quarter, I said, ‘Hey, it looks like we’re playing in slow motion,’” head coach David McClurg said. “We were stagnant the first quarter, I think, because we had plans for their best girl, who ended up not playing. Because she wasn’t there, we did not adapt as quickly as I thought we would.”
According to McClurg, that El Camino player averaged over 30 points a game. Shen also said that the team generally does not always come out of the gate running.
“One of our problems is coming out kind of stagnant, so it is just something we need to work on in general,” Shen said.
Despite scoring only eight points in the game’s first six minutes, the team rebounded after the first quarter with an exciting, electric pace that would characterize the second quarter. Rachel Shen raced down the court in transition for an immediate layup, but then El Camino responded with a basket of their own after catching the Falcons sleeping on defense.
Despite a miss from Shen on the next possession, center Izzy Ascencio (10) earned a rebound and put the ball back on the glass for a 12-9 Falcon lead.
While the Falcons were producing offensively, the Wildcats dropped in easy layups to keep the Falcons’ lead at 15-13 with three minutes remaining in the half.
But, Shen was able to break the deadlock by first sending an overhead dime to Ascencio for a score and then, with five seconds remaining in the half, Shen drove coast to coast for an and one opportunity and a 25-16 Falcons lead.
McClurg says Shen and Ascencio became key players in the game. While Shen is usually a “stud” on the court according to McClurg, he says he was impressed by Ascencio’s toughness.
“She always rebounds the heck out of it and plays really good defense, but she also scored quite a bit in this game,” McClurg said.
In the 3rd quarter, the game’s fast pace continued as great ball movement, transition baskets and points inside the paint led to efficient scoring for both teams.
With the Falcons leading 33-23 and with under three minutes left in the quarter, Emma Richards-Smith (11) provided a spark off the bench by hitting two mid-range jumpers. Both scores helped the Falcons enter the fourth quarter safely leading 40-25.
Although the Falcons would outscore the Wildcats 22-2 in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats’ crowd erupted when a referee favored the Falcons in a controversial call. Nonetheless, the Falcons were unfazed and continued to build on their lead even after subbing in their bench players. A late layup from Rehanna Fikre (11) finalized a 52-30 Falcons win.
“I think we started off the season really well, then we had a big decline and now we are on our way back up. I think it is only going to get better from here,” Shen said.