LA CAÑADA — There was no way around it; the La Salle High girls’ basketball program, losers of six straight — four since its coaching change — needed a win against host Flintridge Prep in a nonleague game Saturday night.
The Lancers, ranked 15th in CIF-Southern Section Division IV-AA despite the recent skid, went out and got just that by dominating the Rebels, who share the No. 5 ranking in Division V-AA, for a 68-26 cathartic victory.
La Salle (13-9) used a high-pressure defense to force a number of turnovers, which often led to easy baskets at the other end.
“We knew we could pressure this team, so we applied the pressure and that was pretty much it, that’s all she wrote,” Huley said.
The Lancers, who had 10 players score, were led by point guard Kandyce Smith. The junior scored 14 points and dished out six assists. She had nine points in the first half after which La Salle led 20-7.
“It’s great to be on the winning end,” Smith said. “We’ve had to bounce back from the hardships we’ve went through and it just feels good to finally win.”
La Salle sophomore Sierra Bononi came off the bench to score 11 points, including seven in the second half, which ended with a running clock after the Lancer lead peaked at 45. Caroline Knop also joined the double-digit club for the Lancers with 10 points, three steals and a team-high six rebounds.
Celeste Browne and Briannna Rodriguez both scored nine points for the Lancers. Browne also had five steals to share the game honors with teammate Dionna Williams. Rodriguez was key in the first quarter, draining two early three-point baskets, as La Salle stayed outside the Rebel zone defense early. Her third came as the capper to a 25-point second quarter that ended with the junior taking a pass from Smith and sinking a shot from beyond the arc as the first-half horn sounded, giving the Lancers a 45-14 cushion at the break.
“Coach Dana told us to come out, don’t be sluggish, attack them, and let’s get the ‘W’,” Rodriguez said. “We wanted to win and it felt good.”
Flintridge Prep (13-4), which was coming off a one-point league win over Mayfield the night before to stay perfect in Prep League play, had eight players score, albeit not nearly as much as the Lancers, who controlled the action throughout.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Flintridge Prep Coach Kevin Kiyomura said. “I think [La Salle] is 0- in league, so I’m sure they have something to prove and we just happen to be in their way.”
The Rebels were led by freshman Tala Ismail’s six points, which included four in the third quarter, after which Flintridge Prep trailed 63-20. Senior Kinsey Thompson had five points, all of them coming in the first quarter. Senior Laurie Hayrapetian chipped in four points and joined Ismail as the only Rebel to record two field goals.
“We knew it was going to be like this,” Kiyomura said of the game’s one-sidedness, “so we just took it as we’re going to learn as much as we can and make it a good practice and then we’ll move forward.”
After Saturday’s lopsided game, both teams return to the world of league play. The Rebels will look to continue their unbeaten league campaign with a visit to Webb on Tuesday. La Salle will host St. Bernard on Tuesday in the hunt for its first win in the Del Rey League.
“It was a great win. We played hard this game,” Smith said of Saturday’s convincing victory. “We just did a lot of things we wish we could in league.”