By Rick Assad
For a significant portion of the first half, Tabitha Cruz carried the Burbank High girls’ basketball team.
Across the second half, Cruz was even better and helped the Bulldogs hand visiting Arcadia a 51-40 setback on Friday night in a Pacific League match.
Cruz poured in seven points in the first quarter and then added four points in the second period.
Cruz followed up with an eight-point outburst in the third quarter, tacked on seven points in the fourth frame and finished with a game-high 26 points.
All night, the Apaches double-teamed the senior center in the painted area and even triple-teamed her, but she managed to put the ball in the hoop.
“Tabitha was a beast. She was able to take what they gave her,” Burbank co-coach Bruce Breeden said. “Her teammates did a good job of getting her the ball.”
The Bulldogs (10-7 and 5-2 in league) trailed 12-7 after the first period and 21-19 at the intermission.
The second half was an altogether different story as Burbank dropped 15 points in the third quarter while limiting Arcadia to eight points and pulled ahead 34-29.
The Bulldogs tallied 17 points in the fourth quarter and held the Apaches (12-5 and 3-2 on league) to 11 points.
“We had a good talk at halftime. We needed to play our game and be more aggressive on the press and take open looks,” said Breeden of the second half in which Burbank, which is in the top half of the league, outscored Arcadia 32-19.
Senior shooting guard Christina Ohanians added seven points for the Bulldogs and senior shooting guard Rheanna Ocampo and junior power forward Karen Casillas each tacked on six points.
Burbank shot 33.9 percent (19 of 56) from the field and Arcadia made 22.8 percent (13 of 57) of its attempts and was outrebounded 50-36. The Bulldogs converted nine of 18 free throws for 50 percent.
The Apaches held a five-point edge heading into the second frame as junior shooting guard Mel Manell scored six of her 11 points and canned all four of her free throws.
When junior point guard Keanna Luu’s three-pointer swished through the net, Arcadia led 10-5 with 1:26 left in the first frame.
Menell’s five points which included a three-pointer helped Arcadia, which made four of six from the free-throw line for 66.6 percent, pull ahead by two points at the intermission.
In the game, the Apaches connected on seven from three-point range while the Bulldogs made four.
Senior shooting guard Lana Truong was the only player that scored for the Apaches in the third quarter, as she tallied eight of her 11 points.
Casillas accounted for four points in the third period and Ohanians tossed in a three-pointer.
A trey from Ohanians with 4:50 left in the third quarter pushed Burbank’s advantage to 26-24.
Arcadia made three from three-point range in the fourth period, but it wasn’t enough.
A three-pointer from junior point guard Emi Naruko for all of her points cut Burbank’s cushion to 42-37 with 3:16 showing in the fourth period.
Truong’s trey then sliced the lead to 44-40 with 1:16 on the clock.
Burbank senior shooting guard Alle Tarvirdi scored all of her four points at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Junior small forward Shelby Cribbs tossed in all of her two points in the second period for the Bulldogs.