Lady Heralds struggle with ball pressure, fall in second round
A relentless full court press left the Whittier Christian girls’ basketball team scrambling to protect the ball in its second round matchup against St. Joseph of Santa Maria.
St. Joseph’s furious defensive effort led to easy baskets in transition and a lopsided 70-32 victory in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 4A playoffs, Saturday night at Whittier Christian High.
The Lady Knights jumped out to a commanding lead, up 17-5 with two minutes left in the first quarter and never looked back.
“They were just making layup after layup,” head coach Grace Ricafranca said.
With starting point guard Priscilla Zamorano out with a knee injury, St. Joseph capitalized on the Lady Herald’s ball-handling struggles.
“We had a difficult time bringing the ball down and setting up into our offense,” Ricafranca said. “We were very uncomfortable as far as ball handling wise today and we just lost control.”
Without their primary ball handler, the Lady Heralds relied on Sydney Lopez not only to rebound and defend the paint, but also set up her teammates.
“She plays our 1 through 5 and she’s able to do it all,” Ricafranca said.
Unfortunately for the Lady Heralds, St. Joseph (17-9) came prepared to prevent her from taking over.
“I thought we did a good job taking (Lopez) out of her game, making her have to work,” said Ed Torres, St. Joseph head coach. “We that knew we had to stop her, their leading scorer, leading everything. We knew we had to try and neutralize her.”
From there the Lady Knights were able to individually stop their matchups. St. Joseph junior, Syenna Ramirez shut down Hannah Yoshihara, limiting her to just six points and led her team in scoring with 31 points.
Senior Kaitlyn Flowers scored 23 points as well as teamed up with Kaitlyn Jarrett to shut down the Lady Herald’s inside presence.
With the loss, the Lady Heralds finish their season 15-12. Seven of their 13 players will return next year, including Christa Evans who battled for 11 points, to lead her team, including five points in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of these girls have not only grown as basketball players but as young women,” Ricafranca said. “I think that the suffering has allowed us to develop our character and also learn how to persevere.”