PASADENA — Perhaps the only thing odder than not seeing All-Area Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year Michelle Miller in the Pasadena Poly girls’ basketball lineup Tuesday afternoon was the gameplan her former teammates employed.
The Panthers, still adjusting to life without the graduated Miller, applied a zone defense in successfully containing Westridge School standout Carmen Costa en route to an impressive 57-46 road victory at Hoffman Gymnasium in Prep League play.
The Panthers (8-2 overall, 2-0 in league) did just that in quickly double- and triple-teaming Costa out of a 2-3 zone, while holding the 6-foot-1 post player to five points, which was below her average of about 12 points per game.
“I think how fast they played threw us off because we didn’t expect them to be as fast paced since Michelle Miller graduated,” Costa said. “The zone threw the girls off a lot.”
Poly’s speed was evident early as the Panthers jumped out to a 19-10 advantage after one quarter thanks to six points from senior forward Catherine Lehman, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
In that quarter, Poly junior center Kaitlyn Olah scored five of her-game high 20 points.
Olah was most dominant in the third quarter, though, matching Westridge’s scoring herself in converting four field goals and two free throws in scoring 10 points.
Overall, Poly won the quarter, 23-10, and led, 53-28, after three quarters.
“One of the things that we really incorporated this season is really working together with the posts and guards and that’s really been effective this season,” said Olah, who added eight rebounds and two blocks. “Last season, there was a little bit of a disconnect.”
The Tigers (5-2, 2-1) did make the game respectable in winning the fouth quarter, 18-4, behind eight of Courtney Sloan’s nine points.
In fact, Sloan’s offensive rebound and putback with three seconds remaining off a missed free throw from teammate Erica Wei brought the Tigers within 11, which was their smallest deficit since halftime.
“It didn’t surprise me too much [that Poly played zone]. I know what they were trying to do against Carmen Costa inside. They double- and triple-teamed everytime she got the ball and it worked out well for them, not too much for us,” Tigers Coach Melanie Horn said.
“Throughout the game, though, I think we continued to improve and I think the deficit in the game speaks to our effort in the second half.”
Guard Erin Golden hit three three-pointers in leading the Tigers with 14 points.
Not to be forgotten was the effort of sophomore guard Kiki Yang, who finished second on the Panthers with 15 points and six steals.