PASADENA — After cruising in pool-play of the Pasadena Polytechnic Tournament with a pair of 29-point margins and more recently, 68, the Flintridge Sacred Heart basketball team struggled in the championship game, as they were matched up against a bigger Pasadena Poly squad.
The size disadvantage proved to be vital, and something the Tologs couldn’t overcome in a 56-47 defeat Saturday evening in the tournament championship.
Similarly to recent tournament wins over San Marino, Holy Martyrs Armenian and Animo Leadership, Flintridge Sacred Heart received steady guard play from Jenna Tran, Casey Johnson and Kelly Fradet. The trio combined for 35 of the team’s 47 points in the loss to the Panthers, but subpar shooting and Poly’s inside game proved to be the biggest factors for the runner-up Tologs.
“The game was lost in the first and second quarters,” said Tologs Coach Ty Buxman, whose team trailed 28-16 going into the half. “We didn’t do a good job with our pick-and-roll defense. That’s 12 points right there.”
Poly’s Kaitlyn Olah set the tone in the game with 13 first-half points, as she was able to get position inside the paint and take advantage of the smaller Tologs defenders. Olah, who was named the tournament co-MVP with teammate Kiki Yang, made seven of eight free throws in the first half, benefiting from offensive rebounds that resulted in second-chance points and/or personal fouls that resulted in trips to the charity stripe.
“We were able to pound it inside, which was very helpful,” Panthers Coach Kim Weber said. “In the past, FSHA has been strong inside, but they have good, strong guards this year. Kiki faced a lot of guard pressure.”
The Tologs (5-3) trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter and couldn’t muster up extended scoring streaks while shooting 20% (four for20) in the frame. Overall, they made 15 field goals in the game — six coming in the fourth quarter where FSHA scored its highest output of any quarter and outscored Poly (6-1) by six points.
Poly’s lead was cut to as little as eight in the fourth, but ultimately the double-digit deficit proved to be insurmountable. Tran led the comeback attempts, as she put in nine of her team-high 19 points, including a three-pointer that cut Poly’s lead down to 52-44, the slimmest margin since early in the second quarter.
“We picked up our intensity [in the fourth],” Buxman said. “We put pressure on them and made them go outside their comfort zone. The difference was in the first half, though, not the second.”
Yang led all scorers with 21 points, including 11 in the final frame. The junior guard was able to penetrate the Flintridge Sacred Heart defense and provide a nice balance to Poly’s offense, while keeping the Tologs at a distance on the scoreboard.
Tran and Ellie DiPietro received all-tournament honors. DiPietro, a senior guard and one of four seniors on the team, scored four points against Poly after putting in 14 in the previous game versus Animo Leadership.
“We’re a young team,” Buxman said. “We might shoot 40% one game and 5% the next. It’s good game experience, though. Poly’s a good team with a good defense and we couldn’t adjust to a higher level defense.”