However, the two teams arrived in very different positions. Bishop Amat was No. 1 in the latest CIF-Southern Section Division IA poll, while La Salle, in its first year in the Del Rey, came in reeling, having parted ways with its head coach Kevin Cormier late last week.
Not surprisingly, it was the host Lancers of Bishop Amat who jumped out to an early advantage and were never threatened on the way to a 60-41 victory over La Salle, which is now 0-2 under interim varsity coach Dana Huley.
“We’re in a really tough league, obviously,” La Salle junior Caroline Knop said. “It is a battle night in and night out, so it was tough, but we’ve worked a lot in practice and we’re improving. Obviously, with the loss of coach Cormier, it’s been tough on us.”
Bishop Amat (16-4, 1-2) scored the first eight points of the contest and never trailed. The host Lancers built their lead through the first three quarters. After one, the Bishop Amat advantage was 10. With just under three minutes left in the second, La Salle (12-7, 0-4) had less than half of its opponent’s tally at 30-14 before cutting it to 32-18 at the break.
After halftime, La Salle switched to a zone defense, which only slowed Bishop Amat briefly until it figured it out and extended the advantage to 23 after three quarters. The fourth quarter started with a conventional three-point play by Bishop Amat’s Paulina Santana to peak the lead at 26 before La Salle outscored the hosts 15-8 the rest of the way. La Salle won the quarter, but not the game, leaving it still looking for its first Del Rey League victory in the Lancers’ inaugural season.
“We focus on finishing the game,” Knop said. “Coach Dana prides us on finishing the game and working through, even if we are down by 20-plus.”
La Salle had three players tie for its team lead in points with 10. Knop was the only player on the floor to score in every quarter. Kandyce Smith came off the bench ready to shoot and accounted for La Salle’s first two buckets. Sierra Bononi’s 10 included two three-pointers in the third quarter for six of her team’s eight in the period.
“We’re just staying positive and working together as a team,” Huley said.
Bishop Amat had three double-digit scorers as well, led by Santana with 15. Maurina Clayton had 12 points, as did Dagmar Ramirez, who came off the bench.
“We’re working slowly but surely,” Knop said. “Hopefully we’ll have a [Del Rey] win at the end of the season.”