Girls’ basketball narrowly loses CIF Quarter Final to Mark Keppel

Story by Zoe Chen
Staff Writer

Photo by Emiko Essmiller
Co-Design Editor and Staff Photographer

Girls’ basketball lost their neck and neck Quarter Final CIF game to Mark Keppel on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The Tigers played aggressively, and Tiger fouls allowed the Aztecs to gain over 15 of their 49 points from free throws. A referee mistake in the final period kept the suspense high until the literal last second. 

Each team scored a two-pointer early in the first period, but after Mark Keppel scored another three, South Pasadena called an early timeout. The Tigers’ offense and rebounds allowed them a few more shot attempts before the Aztecs got possession again, but the Tigers missed each shot they took. 

Senior point guard Dylan Tse scored another two-pointer for the team with 4:30 remaining. However, an Aztec two immediately after kept the Tigers behind 4-9. South Pasadena scored their first three-pointer when senior shooting guard Yuzu Harada sank a shot from an undefended corner. Yet, with three minutes remaining, the Aztecs preserved their lead, and the Tigers were down five points 7-12. The Tigers missed three more shots in the next minute, although the Aztecs did not manage to score either. 

A rebound and three-pointer from Tse brought the Tigers up 10-12. The clock dropped below 30 seconds. Tse sank a two-pointer in the last five seconds to close the period with South Pasadena down only two points, 12-14. 

Junior shooting guard Kayla Boozer was given two free throws within 30 seconds of the second period. Her second shot sailed through the hoop, bringing the score to 13-14. However, South Pasadena was down again after Mark Keppel sank two free throws of their own, 13-16. 

The game entered a three-minute-long defensive stretch. Finally, after a rebound and undefended run down the court, Boozer scored a two and brought the score to 15-17. Another two from Boozer with 3:30 left on the clock prompted the Aztecs to call their first timeout of the game. 

A two-pointer from sophomore point guard Madeline Park followed a Mark Keppel two, keeping the Tigers a single point behind the Aztecs. However, Keppel pulled ahead again after another two-pointer and two free throws. 

Immediately after being subbed into the game, sophomore guard Brylee Woo scored a three-pointer to roaring approval from the stands. Still, the period ended with South Pasadena down four points, 24-28. 

The Tigers upped their game during the third period. A series of smooth passes allowed senior point guard Jamie Rain Kim to score a three-pointer and bring the score to 27-28. Minutes later, a two from Tse finally pulled the Tigers ahead of the Aztecs, and the Aztecs called a timeout. 

Senior point guard Ava Chang scored an undefended two-pointer and brought the Tigers to 33-30. Woo sank another two, and a free throw from Park brought the Tigers four points ahead, 36-32, with two minutes left on the clock. 

Still, in the last five seconds of the period, the Aztecs managed to score a two-pointer and tie the scores 36-36. The third period ended tied. 

20 seconds into the final period, Mark Keppel scored a three-pointer and pulled into the lead, again. A rebound and two-pointer from Boozer brought the scores to 39-41, and the Tigers called a timeout shortly after. 

Boozer sank a free throw and scored a two-pointer, which brought the Tigers ahead again 42-41. With four minutes remaining in the game, it was Keppel’s turn to call a timeout. 

For the next few minutes, the score remained unchanged with the Tigers a single point ahead of the Aztecs. With 2:36 remaining, Mark Keppel called a full timeout. 

When the Aztecs were given two free throws, they sank both and pulled ahead of the Tigers 42-43. The Tigers took a full timeout with 1:21 remaining.

The scores stayed dangerously close as the clock continued to count down. Each second counted more than ever, and each point a team scored could be the difference between winning and losing. The Tigers turned to fouling, doing whatever they could to pause the ticking clock. 

Mark Keppel was awarded two free throws with 36.5 seconds remaining. They made both, and the Tigers were down by three points 42-45. 

The Tigers called another full timeout with 23 seconds left. Four seconds later, Keppel was given two more free throws and called another timeout. 

Things did not look good as the Aztecs scored a point from their free throw 42-46 and guaranteed that the Tigers would need at least two shots to tie the scores — the same play that had won the Tigers their first round game, except now South Pasadena was on the receiving end. 

Six seconds remained and the Aztecs were given yet another set of two free throws. They scored a point from their second, 42-47. South Pasadena called a timeout. 

Tse sank a three-pointer in the last two seconds of the period, bringing the score to 45-47; the Tigers were one three-pointer away from victory. An official timeout was called with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. 

An error was made by the scorekeeper in the final period, and the number of timeouts left shown on the scoreboard was not accurate. This had earlier led the referees to wrongly tell South Pasadena that they had one more timeout remaining than they really did; South Pasadena unknowingly took six timeouts during the game, rather than the legal five. 

The refs charged South Pasadena with a technical foul, so Mark Keppel was given two free throws — both of which they made 45-49. South Pasadena argued with the call, claiming that they had been wrongly informed and should not be held at fault; that the Tigers had fallen victim to the situation and could have won if not for Keppel’s extra shots. The coaches and refs went back and forth for 10 excruciating minutes, the clock frozen at 0.7 seconds and advancement to the Semi Final at stake. The uninformed crowd watched anxiously, waiting for the final decision to be announced. 

The final call, much to South Pas’ outrage, was that Keppel would keep the points from their extra free throws. Unable to score four points in 0.7 seconds, the Tigers lost the game and were eliminated from the playoffs. Mark Keppel lost their Semi Final game three days later.

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