By Rick Assad
Special to BurbankNBeyond
In a season that delivered far more victories than defeats, the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team struggled from the outset in a surprising 61-57 loss to Fountain Valley in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division IA playoffs.
The Indians dug a hole that was simply too deep in the opening half, and could not fully recover as the Barons fended off a late charge and claimed the upset on Saturday.
Burroughs, the No. 8 seed, had a miserable night shooting from the field, making 27.7 percent (20 of 72), but improved slightly in the second half when it hit 31.5 percent (12 of 38).
“I think we missed like 20 layups in the first half,” Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan said. “I knew it was a tough draw even though we had a better record. Fountain Valley has been through this before. They have more seniors who have been in the playoffs. We really only have one [Aysia Shellmire].”
If not for the overall play of Shellmire in the second half, the Barons (12-15) could have coasted at the end.
Though Burroughs was outrebounded, 25-13, in the opening half, the Indians pounded the boards in the second half to the tune of 31-13. The effort was a little too late.
“It’s tough to come back,” Oganyan said. “The kids have to calm down and make shots. It’s competition. You just have to do it, but we didn’t.”
The Indians (23-5) rallied to tie it at 50-50 with less than two minutes showing on the clock when Shellmire, a senior who had a game-high 24 points, scored inside the painted area.
Fountain Valley gathered itself, didn’t flinch, and outscored Burroughs, 11-7, the rest of the way.
Senior shooting guard Jasmine Matar’s two three-pointers during this span helped stem Burroughs’ rally. Matar’s second trey gave the Barons a 56-52 lead as she finished with eight points.
That Fountain Valley toils in a highly-competitive league proved critical according to Head Coach Cory Clarke.
“It’s a huge factor that we play in the Sunset League,” Clarke said. “We have to play some of the best teams like Edison, Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos. There are five solid teams in the Sunset League.”
Shellmire scored three points in the opening half in which the Indians trailed 15-11 after the first quarter, and 35-20 at the intermission, but the 6-1 center dropped in 21 points in the second half to lead the valiant comeback.
Fountain Valley junior point guard Danielle Kennedy was the game-changer as she set the tone with her ball-handling skills and passing ability.
Kennedy, who finished with a team-best 19 points, was able to penetrate into the lane, and either distribute the ball to an open teammate or take her own shot.
In the fourth quarter, Kennedy tallied five points, including three points at the charity stripe and was a steady influence when the Indians made their late kick.
Fountain Valley, which finished 3-7 in league for fourth place, came out and drilled seven of 14 shots in the opening quarter as senior center Kelcie Mayott (12 points) dropped in six points, while Kennedy had five points.
Junior shooting guard Sidney Ortega (14 points) kept the Indians close by scoring five points, but Burroughs, which shared the championship in the Pacific League at 12-2, made five of 20 attempts from the floor.
The Barons, who shot 60 percent (15 of 25) in the first half, erupted for a 20-point second quarter behind seven points from Kennedy and six points from junior power forward Emily Krause (13 points).
Burroughs was having a tough time from the field and seemed out of sorts with Ortega the only effective player as she scored nine points in the first 16 minutes of action.
Shellmire scored four points to begin the third quarter, but the Indians then missed six shots before Shellmire, who added 10 points in the stanza, scored on consecutive hoops as Burroughs came within 42-31 at the 4:25 mark.
Fountain Valley, which made 37.5 percent (nine of 24) in the second half, converted six of 14 from the floor in the third quarter with Krause tallying five points as the Barons led 48-36 entering the fourth quarter.
Burroughs’ shooting woes continued into the final quarter, drilling seven of 18 attempts as Shellmire tallied 11 points, while junior power forward Jakarra Waddell (seven points) had five.
The Indians rallied to tie it at 50 apiece but this night belonged to Fountain Valley as it advanced to the second round of the CIF Playoffs.