After making a spirited run to reach the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA playoffs, the members of the Flintridge Prep girls’ basketball team were rewarded with an invitation to the CIF State Championships.
In doing so, the sixth-seeded Rebels needed to travel nearly four hours by bus to nearby Fresno to participate in a Division V first-round game against 11th-seeded Reedley Immanuel on Wednesday night.
“It was a valiant effort and an absolutely incredible experience for our team,” said Flintridge Prep co-Coach Jayme Kiyomura-Chan, who split the coaching chores with Kevin Kiyomura. “There were a lot of people here and it was a packed gym.
“We started out the game a little flat and we had a tough stretch in the second quarter. The teams were similar in some ways. I liked the way we played. This game was a gift for the hard work that our players put in this year.”
Flintridge Prep trailed, 29-20, at halftime after building a 12-11 first-quarter lead against Immanuel (20-7). Immanuel, which captured the CIF Cental Section Division V title Saturday, built a 40-31 lead through three quarters before Flintridge Prep (19-9) made its charge.
A basket by Flintridge Prep sophomore forward Lacy Coan cut the deficit to 46-43 on a three-pointer with just under three minutes remaining before Immanuel used a 4-0 run to make it 50-43 with 2:08 left.
“We were a little groggy coming off the bus and it took some time to get going,” said Flintridge Prep junior guard Maya Okamoto, who finished with 10 points. “We did everything to fight back and close the gap late.
“I think we had a great season and we were able to find out what it’s like to play in state.”
Freshman guard Tala Ismail paced Flintridge Prep, which finished second in the Prep League, with a team-high 14 points. Coan added 12 points.
“It was just very exciting to get here,” Coan said. “Our coaches did a great job of preparing us for the season and I think we learned a lot.”