SOUTH PASADENA — Even when the lead the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy basketball team had spent more than half the game building and maintaining was wiped out by San Marino in what seemed like a matter of seconds, the Tologs didn’t hit the panic button.
Instead, they slammed on the brakes defensively and hit some big shots down the stretch of Friday night’s 64-54 win over the Titans in a San Gabriel Tournament game at South Pasadena High.
“Honestly I didn’t really notice and no one looked really panicked, which is a start for Sacred Heart,” said Tologs guard Dana Budzyn (10 points, eight assists, four rebounds and five steals), whose team, which led by as many as 15 points, saw an eight-point lead go up in smoke over the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. “I felt like all of us were pretty confident in how we were playing and we knew if we just stopped them from shooting three-pointers we would win the game.”
San Marino guard Leigh Kunitake (32 points) did all of the damage herself during the Titan’s run to lead off the fourth, making a layup off a steal before drilling back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game at 49 with 6:03 left.
“We got lazy on defense, we just had to shut down [Kunitake],” said Sacred Heart Coach Ty Buxman, whose team improved to 2-1. “She’s their shooter and we decided not to guard her for a couple plays and that’s where we got in trouble. We just called timeout and said don’t let her touch the ball.”
The Tologs responded and kept Kunitake from scoring from the field for the rest of the game, while countering on the offensive end with an 11-1 run of their own to take control back for good.
Jenna Tran (12 points, six rebounds) scored on a layup off a pass from Budzyn right out of the timeout to break the tie and, after a stop at the other end, Juliet Hook crashed the offensive boards to draw a foul and sank a pair of free throws.
The run continued as Casey Johnson, who led the Tologs with 21 points, scored on a quick inbound play from Budzyn, who then scored the next three Sacred Heart points on a free throw and a runner at the 2:20 mark. Tran put the Tologs back up by double-digits, 60-50, with a drive to the basket with 1:17 to play.
“We didn’t play good defense,” said San Marino Coach Kenny Fisher, who formerly coached at Flintridge Prep. “We played pretty good defense to get back into it, but then when we tied it up, we stopped rebounding. We forced them to take bad shots, but we didn’t clean it up.”
Sacred Heart out rebounded San Marino (1-2), 43-26, and also won the turnover battle handily with just 12 to the Titans’ 20.
Up by just two at the end of the first quarter, Sacred Heart opened the game up with a 9-0 run to begin the second, sparked by six points, five rebounds and two blocks in the quarter from Melene Agakanian, who finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Tologs also had six steals in the second quarter, by the end of which they led, 33-21.
“We always say that the two things that are going to determine ballgames are turnovers and rebounding,” Fisher said. “If you don’t turn it over, you get good shots and you can battle and take care of the defensive glass, you’ve got a shot to win. The two things that determine it are the two things I thought we didn’t do very well at.”