Posted on 05 January 2013 by laha1016
By Nathan Percy La Habra Journal
In its final nonleague game before Olympic League play starts next week, the Whittier Christian girls basketball team let a second-half lead slip away in a 45-37 loss at home against La Serna, Saturday night.
La Serna controlled the boards throughout the fourth quarter and most of the team’s six offensive rebounds found the hoop for second-chance points.
“We had to play with a lot of intensity in the first five minutes of the second half, because usually that’s where the game is won,” said Richard Villeza, Whittier Christian head coach. “If it goes one way, they come back, if it goes the other, the game is over and they did what they needed to do.”
La Serna’s Maddy Fitzpatrick scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter, with four of those coming after offensive rebounds.
Freshman Samantha Calderon also had four fourth-quarter points off offensive rebounds as the Lady Lancers outscored Whittier Christian 18-6 in the final frame.
“In the first half, we did a good job of getting defensive boards, preventing second-chance points and blocking the weak side,” Villeza said. “For whatever reason, in the second half we weren’t able to prevent that.”
The Lady Heralds held an eight-point advantage at halftime with good ball movement on the offensive end.
Sydney Lopez scored eight of her 12 points in the first half as she found cutting lanes and made three easy layups.
The junior also grabbed seven rebounds, but was held without one in the fourth quarter.
“They did a box-and-run on Sydney late, which frustrated her and doing that made a lot of our players rely on Sydney a lot,” Villeza said. “Give credit to them for making that change, but our players just didn’t step up, we had good shots, we just couldn’t make them and with their offensive rebounding, that really hurt.”
The lead could have been greater for Whittier Christian at halftime.
Midway through the second quarter, Lauren Macias was fouled while attempting a three-pointer. Moments later, La Serna’s Melissa Madrigal was charged a technical foul, which gave the Lady Heralds five free throw attempts and possession.
However, Whittier Christian did not convert any of the attempts and turned the ball over on the following possession, letting La Serna off the hook.
“The free throws really hurt us,” Villeza said. “That was a big thing, they made their free throws and we didn’t convert.”
Despite missed opportunities, Whittier Christian still led 23-15 at halftime.
That advantage was cut in half by La Serna in the third quarter due in large part to two three-pointers by Brandee Alfaro and four more second-chance points by Calderon.
Early in the fourth quarter, La Serna tied the score at 31-31 and took its first lead moments later. The Lady Heralds tied it back up once, but the Lady Lancers took off from there and didn’t look back.
Hannah Yoshihara and Macias scored six points each for Whittier Christian in defeat.
Alfaro scored a game-high 13 points for La Serna with help from Calderon, who added 12 points.
Despite the loss, there were some valuable mental gains in this game for the Lady Heralds, who head up to Village Christian to open up league play, Tuesday night.
“Playing in this environment with La Serna is going to give us a small taste of what it will be like on Tuesday,” Villeza said. “Village is the most hostile environment we will play in, it’s loud, it’s crowded and the fans are right on top of you. This was a good test of how the girls can respond. We lost the game, but for almost three quarters, we played a pretty good game.”