By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
It’s difficult to understand why the Duarte High School girls basketball wasn’t ranked in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA preseason poll.
All the Falcons did last year was finish 25-3, advance to the divisional quarterfinals, earn an invitation to the state playoffs and return all five starters, including Tribune first-team selection Imari Brown, who nearly averaged a quadruple-double as a sophomore. And despite a sore ankle, the junior is at it again.
Brown finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, eight steals and three assists in Duarte’s 55-37 victory over host Glendora to finish undefeated in Pool B of the Glendora girls basketball tournament on Wednesday, earning the Falcons a ticket to tonight’s championship against Eagle Rock at 7:30 p.m., at Glendora High School. (To continue click thread).
Glendora Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament
Monday’s round-robin results
Eagle Rock 59, La Serna 49
Schurr 40, Claremont 29
Duarte 65, Hoover 32
Glendora 37, Charter Oak 35
Duarte 57, Charter Oak 43
Eagle Rock 44, Schurr 40
La Serna 44, Claremont 39
Glendora 61, Hoover 29
Eagle Rock vs. Claremont, 3 p.m.
Schurr vs. La Serna, 4:30 p.m.
Hoover vs. Charter Oak, 6 p.m.
Duarte vs. Glendora, 7:30 p.m.
Championship on Thursday, 7:30 p.m., at Glendora
“We surprised a lot of people last year so I guess we have to do it again,” said Brown, who also scored 32 points the night before in a win over Charter Oak. “We want to go far in CIF and the state, but we have a long way to go, we’re just getting started and we’re having a lot of fun.”
Duarte (6-1), who also received nine points and nine rebounds from center Yasmine Wilson and seven points from Shereese Cox, blanked the Tartans in the first quarter, racing to a 13-0 lead that stretched to 17-0 before the Tartans’ Leah Bolton stopped the bleeding with a banker with 6:50 left until half to get the Tartans on the board.
“Too many bad mistakes and turnovers killed us,” said Tartans coach Chris Harrison. “We fought hard and made it respectable the rest of the way, but we dug ourselves a pretty big hole and against a team like that, it’s tough coming back.”
The Tartans’ (11-4) Casie Lowden finished with a team-high 18 points and her bucket with just over two minutes left until half trimmed the Falcons’ lead to 21-11, but Duarte’s Mikayla Tickey answered with a 3-pointer and Brown scored off a steal to push the Falcons’ lead to 13 at halftime.
“Before the game and at halftime, all we talked about was Imari Brown because she’ll score lay-up after lay-up if you don’t get in front of her and that’s what she did,” Harrison said. “You try to game plan for her, but we couldn’t do much against her tonight, she was getting to the basket whenever she wanted.”
Duarte lost a non-league game against Glendale 36-32 in its second game of the season, a game Brown missed because of an ankle injury.
Brown said her ankle is still tender, but you could hardly tell.
“I’m just trying to get back the feel of the game,” Brown said. “I like to play, this is what I do.”
And for Falcons coach Mark Smith, Brown’s a player he can line-up anywhere.
“She can post up, play the point, the wing, whatever we need her to do,” Smith said. “The thing about this team is we did have a good year last year and we want to build on it, but sometimes we don’t play with the focus and intensity that we need to.
“But at the same time, I can’t complain. The name of the game is having fun and we play our best when they’re having fun and not putting too much pressure on themselves.”