By Rick Assad
Before the referee tossed the ball into the air to begin the game, the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team was in for an uphill battle.
Its opponent on Monday night was Leuzinger, which had several tall players who were quick, played tough defense and ready to race downcourt for easy baskets.
This formula worked especially well in the first half and nearly as well in the second as the Olympians claimed a 69-40 victory in the West Coast Holiday Tournament.
The Bears (9-5) committed 19 turnovers in the first half but then turned the ball over six times in the second half.
Three Leuzinger players scored in double figures including junior guard Leah Sarabia, who tossed in a game-best 22 points.
Junior guard Madison Watts added 20 points and senior power forward/center Mydrea Moore contributed 16 points.
Freshman point guard Malia Harney delivered 10 points for the Bears, who shot 20 percent in the first half on four of 20 from the field.
Burroughs rebounded in the second half and converted 10 of 21 for 47.6 percent.
Freshman guard Elizabeth Amoroso tacked on nine points for the Bears.
The Olympians (10-3) marched ahead 15-3 heading into the second quarter and led 33-14 at halftime.
Leuzinger scored 16 points in the third quarter while Burroughs had nine and also outscored the hosts 20-17 in the fourth period.
“The whole point of playing a team like that for us is to get better. To be able to face that type of pressure and get better,” Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan explained, knowing it was going to be a tough matchup. “For us to execute better in the second half was good to see.”
Oganyan added: “Some of the mistakes we made in the first half, some people were able to correct. Our goal is to play good teams with high competition because the teams we play in the [Pacific] League helps them to prepare for it. And our division is really tough,” she noted. “It was about handling pressure.”
Moore’s seven points in the opening frame led the Olympians, who shot 47.6 percent from the field on 31 of 65, and Watts added eight points in the second frame to lead the visitors.
Watts wasn’t done as she scored six points in the third quarter as did Sarabia.
These two players combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter as Sarabia tallied nine points with all the points coming via three-pointers.
Watts added four points in that same frame and Moore accounted for five points.
Harney’s three-pointer was the only points in the first period for the Bears, who made 14 of 41 for 34.1 percent from the floor, and later added four free throws in the second period.
Sophomore guard Mariam Fahs (six points) dropped four points in the third stanza and Amoroso chipped in with six points in the fourth period.
Senior forward Isabella Roderick accounted for six points for Burroughs and freshman guard Grace Barton tallied two points.
Senior guard Kalee Indefenzo added two points and junior guard Natalie Sanchez and junior forward Miz Paz both scored one point for the Bears.
Games of this caliber are always helpful even in defeated because it helps the team get better and more prepared for the deeper and more talented squads along the way. This is especially true in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.