Photo by Thomas Forman
Assoc. Photography Editor
The girls’ basketball team’s impressive season concluded with a 70-47 loss to the Aliso Niguel Wolverines on Saturday, February 18 in the second round of CIF play. This tough road loss solidified the Tigers’ overall record at 15-10 and league record at 8-2.
The two teams demonstrated dynamic play immediately after tip off. Senior captain Jade Lin put the Tigers on the board with a three-pointer, giving South Pas momentum early on. The Wolverines answered back with a steal and two points of their own, but senior captain Juliana Tom was able to complete a three point play off of a lay up in the next drive. This possession was representative of Tom’s physical play throughout the game; she bravely drove into the paint and bodied up against much larger Aliso Niguel defenders, often drawing contact and taking the awarded free throws. In the next Tiger possession, Lin was given an open look from beyond the arc and capitalized on the opportunity for three more points. This combination of drives and high percentage three point shooting forced Aliso Niguel to use its size advantage both on defense and offense. The rest of the quarter was more physical, with fouls from both sides and an increased presence of Aliso Niguel in the paint. Despite a strong effort from the Tigers, the Wolverines were able to post up near the base line and lay it in over the reach of South Pas defenders. Tom would cap off the first quarter with five more points, draining a three in the process, and senior captain Jalynne Li kept the Tigers in the game with a last second layup. The first quarter concluded with the Wolverines leading 20-17.
The Tigers had difficulty squaring up with the larger Aliso Niguel squad in the second quarter. The Wolverines’ heavy defense made it difficult for the Tigers to penetrate, often forcing them to swing the ball around with the hopes of finding an open lane. Lin was able keep South Pasadena in the game early on with a three, but this quarter would play in the favor of Aliso Niguel. Other than two free throws made by sophomore Flannery Clark and one made by sophomore Lauren Kafkaloff, South Pas had little offensive presence. The Wolverines continued to take close range shots throughout the quarter, and it ended with South Pas behind 35-23.
The start of the third quarter played out similarly to the second. Though Tom was able to complete a layup in the team’s first possession, Aliso Niguel went on to score 12 unanswered points. It appeared as though the Wolverines would run away with the game without a Tiger comeback. However, at the brink of defeat, the Tigers sparked a rally and showcased the playmaking that got them to that point in the season. Unaffected by the deficit, several Tigers worked to give South Pas momentum. Lin made a three and sophomore Kayla Zhang followed suit with a three of her own. On the following two possessions, Kafkaloff and Lin would both score, completing a 10-0 Tiger run. Kafkaloff had one more lay-in before the third quarter ended, with the Wolverines still leading 54-37.
The fourth quarter was a much more even matchup, but South Pas was unable to thin the gap substantially by the end. Lin, Tom, and Kafkaloff all made two pointers early on, but it seemed as though Aliso Niguel would match any run made by the Tigers. Junior captain Tiffany Holmes scored the Tigers’ final points of the game, capping off the Tigers’ total at 47. The Wolverines ran down the clock in the final minutes, passing the ball around until the shot clock was almost up. On the Tigers’ side, the end of the game gave the team’s seniors chances to score in the final minutes of their high school basketball careers. Although no shots landed, the determination seen by the trio in the closing minutes of the game was a testament to the impact they have had on the girls’ basketball program this season and the past four years as a whole.
“We had some ups and downs this season but I am really proud of how we finished it off,” Lin said. “We competed with a tough team and never gave up.”