By Jim Riggio
Special to MyBurbank
The Burroughs High girls’ basketball team may be the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 1A playoff bracket, but it was their quarterfinal opponent, Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates, that jumped out to a big lead when the two squared off Saturday night.
No. 1 Burroughs (30-2) trailed by as many as 10 points in the first quarter before storming back in the second quarter.
In the end the Indians were too much for the visiting Panthers as they earned a 54-45 victory and a berth in the CIF semifinals where they will play at West Torrance High. The game is slated for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against the No. 4 Warriors who are 22-7 overall.
“We knew it would be tough from the beginning. (Seeds) don’t mean anything,” said Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan, whose team has won 26 games in a row. “When you get to the quarterfinals you know you’re going to be playing a team that is very good.”
Peninsula (18-11) finished third in the highly competitive Bay League behind Redondo and Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach. Redondo and Mira Costa are the top two seeds in the CIF Division 2AA playoff bracket.
Before it could barely get going, Burroughs found itself down 9-0 as Peninsula hit a trio of three-pointers in the first 1:41 of the contest.
“We’re just fighters. It doesn’t faze us to be down early,” Oganyan said. “We know it is a 32-minute game and we know the third and fourth quarter we’re going to be fresher than the other team.”
Burroughs slowly adjusted after Peninsula played a tight zone defense in the early going.
The Indians hit their first field goal with 2:56 left in the first quarter as Abbey Ibarra hit a three pointer.
After trailing 16-8 at the end of the first quarter, Burroughs opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run. Ibarra hit three free throws and Chloe Takeuchi hit a three-pointer during the run.
Peninsula coach Natalie Kelly credited the Burroughs crowd for helping the Indians get back into the game.
“This is a good shooting team. We came out really strong,” Kelly said of her team. “That crowd was such a home-court advantage.”
After Burroughs led 27-26 at halftime the Indians began to pull away late in the third quarter.
Kamryn Cardenaz hit a three-pointer with 29 seconds left to make it 42-34.
Peninsula didn’t go down without a fight, however.
Tiffany Lucci, one of three triplets on Peninsula’s team scored a pair of baskets to cut Burroughs’ lead to 42-38. Lucci and her sisters Madison and Paris combined to score 35 of Peninsula’s 45 points.
The Indians finished the game on an 8-2 run to propel themselves into the CIF semifinals as they look for their first-ever CIF title.
Davina Del Castillo led Burroughs with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Ibarra had nine points and three steals. Brooke Radcliff had eight points with Sienna Brown contributing seven points, Takeuchi six and Cardenaz five. Jordan Meltzer (two points) and Delaney Nicol (one point) closed out the scoring.