South Pasadena girls' basketball goes cold in playoff loss
South Pasadena Tigers' comeback bid negated by fourth-quarter struggles in playoff loss.
South Pasadena's Lexie Scholtz pulls up for a layup against San Luis Obispo's Christine Freberg. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / February 20, 2013)
It pressured its opponent into five turnovers in an eight-minute period to throw its playoff foe off its rhythm.
It also made just as many baskets in the quarter as it did in the entire first half.
The South Pasadena High girls' basketball team had all of the momentum in Wednesday's CIF Southern Section Division 3-A quarterfinal game against visiting San Luis Obispo.
Then, in a few minutes of the fourth quarter, its momentum was gone.
South Pasadena couldn't make a shot, couldn't rebound and couldn't stop its visitors.
South Pasadena missed its first 13 shots of the fourth quarter, leading to its season-ending 46-42 loss.
South Pasadena Coach Tammy Lai didn't know what to make of her team's performance in the fourth quarter.
“I don't know if it was fatigue,” she said. “I have no clue.”
She knew what her team did well in the third quarter.
After falling behind, 27-20, two minutes into the quarter, the Tigers cut into the lead with precision shots and hounding defense.
South Pasadena (21-6) made five of nine shots after making five of 22 field goals in the first 16 minutes. It was also four for four from the free-throw line.
“It's playing defense,” Lai said. “That's been our main thing all year long.”
Amber Partida sank two free throws to tie the score at 33 with 1:46 remaining in the quarter. Thirty-three seconds later, Kristen Kafkaloff hit a jumper from the right side to give the Tigers their first lead since they had a 1-0 advantage in the first quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, frustration set in for South Pasadena, the division's fifth seed.
San Luis Obispo — the fourth seed — went back to its formula of overpowering the Tigers in the lowpost.
Five-foot-9 forward Erica Chandler caused two of South Pasadena's players to foul out, as she finished with 18 points, including six in the fourth. Chandler was one of five San Luis Obispo players who were at least 5-8.
San Luis Obispo's Moran Liebscher (5-11) and Jessica Judge (6-1) had 11 and nine points, respectively.
“They're big, but we didn't do a good job of boxing out,” Lai said. “Size had something to do with [our struggles in the fourth], but we had to play through it.
“We saw their stats. They're a big deal. Who wouldn't pound it inside against us?”
South Pasadena was out rebounded by a 40-15 margin, including 14-6 on the offensive end.
By the time South Pasadena's Lexie Scholtz hit a floater with 1:10 remaining in the fourth — ending a drought of eight minutes without a made field goal — the Tigers trailed by five and had little energy left. With her team leading by three, Liebscher missed a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left, but the Tigers failed to grab the rebound and were forced to foul Judge, who clinched the win.
South Pasadena might have the talent to make another deep run into the postseason next year.
Three of its five starters on Wednesday were underclassmen, including Scholtz, a sophomore who had 11 points. Partida, a senior, had 11 points, as well, and Kafkaloff, a freshman, had eight points.
Said Lai: “They played exceptionally well this season. I don't think anyone would've predicted us going this far.”