By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
MONROVIA — It’s not often teams can flip a switch and shift into third gear.
But that’s exactly what the Monrovia High School girls basketball team did, taking off in the second quarter and never looking back for a 55-32 win over La Mirada in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3A playoffs Thursday night.
La Mirada (9-15) seemingly looked to be in complete control after opening the first quarter on an impressive 10-2 run.
Monrovia (17-6) by then had had enough, building its own 11-2 run to turn the tables on the talented but still young Matadores.
Monrovia will be on the road Saturday against the Notre Dame-Antelope Valley winner in the second round. Click on thread to continue reading.
Arcadia 58, Santa Fe 49
San Gabriel 44, Culver City 41
Keppel 53, Whittier Christian 42
Pasadena 45, Godinez 24
Peninsula 59, Rosemead 19
Muir 52, Arlington 46
Monrovia 55, La Mirada 32
Paso Robles 42, Flintridge Prep 32
Maranatha 59, Gabrielino 32
La Caada 52, St. Lucy’s 40
Burroughs 72, Blair 65
La Salle 42, Notre Dame Academy 37
Duarte 64, El Segundo 41
San Marino 58, Santa Ynez 49, OT
South Pasadena 78, Costa Mesa 38
Flintridge Sacred Heart 57, Alverno 32
Pasadena Poly, bye
Mayfield 68, San Jacinto Valley Academy 47
AGBU/Pasadena 64, Newbury Park Adventist 39
Rio Hondo Prep 43, Capistrano Valley Christian 18
Monrovia coach Eliazar Diaz Jr. said jitters was to blame for the reason the Wildcats got off to a shaky start, that and an intimidating sight wearing a La Mirada jersey.
“Just a little jitter bug,” he said. “They were looking at the big girl and they got scared at her.”
Diaz was talking about La Mirada sophomore Alexandria Vanzuilen, a 6-foot-4 power forward who finished with 13 points, four rebounds and one blocked shot. Makenna Wright did a lot of the dirty work inside, scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds.
That the Matadores made the playoffs was an accomplishment in itself, making their first appearance in eight years. Jitters ultimately led to La Mirada’s demise.
“I think our passes lost it for us,” said La Mirada coach Nicole Hyde, whose Matadores committed a staggering 30 turnovers.
Senior forward Ashley Cook went on a tear, scoring a game-high 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds and eight steals to lead the Wildcats.
Fellow junior point guard Gina Henderson, who returned this season after transferring from Bishop Amat after leaving Monrovia her freshman season, played ala-Steve Nash, dishing mid-court passes and wowing the crowd with behind-the-back passes and layups. She scored 14 points to go along with a game-high eight steals and four assists.
“She’s a baller,” Hyde said. “With a player that good there’s nothing you can do.”
Monrovia led by as many as 24, and its suffocating defense forced La Mirada to make sloppy passes.
Monrovia opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run and La Mirada seemingly couldn’t recover after opening with five empty possessions that included four straight turnovers.
The Wildcats found easy baskets in transition, and Cook penetrated through open lanes for easy layups, much to the chagrin of Hyde who called a timeout with 3:38 left in the second quarter and Monrovia leading 24-16.
Joelle Tucker, a sophomore forward, went 4 for 6 and finished with nine points for the Wildcats. Nicole Pea added seven points and senior Jasmin Longtin had four. Senior captain Maryssa Black had three points to go along with four steals.
Monrovia, which finished with 25 steals, outscored La Mirada 21-6 in the second quarter after the Matadores led 12-9 heading into the second quarter. In addition, La Mirada committed 21 first-half turnovers while the Wildcats limited their second-quarter turnovers to only two.
It didn’t seem like it would go that route, not after the Matadores scored with ease inside because of apparent height and strength advantage.
La Mirada looked inside early and often, feeding Vanzuilen who seemingly camped inside and waited for inside passes and offensive rebounds.
Monrovia wasn’t having it, and turned the pressure up sending a double team.
“We got in our heads a little bit,” Hyde said. “We got a little scared when they pressured us a little and we went away from that.”