San Marino girls’ basketball went into the penultimate game of the regular season deadlocked with Temple City for third place in the Rio Hondo League. The Titans went on the road to face the very same Rams for full control of the league’s final automatic playoff spot going into the season finale.
On the court, Temple City jumped out early and stayed ahead throughout to seal a 66-48 victory over San Marino in league play Jan. 30.
“I thought today Temple City came out tough and challenged us,” San Marino coach Elizabeth Reuter said. “I think we got down early quick and it was tough to come out of that, but I thought that once we settled into the game, we did a much better job today.”
Temple City opened the game on a 6-0 run before Titan Chloe Lin made a jumper from the baseline. Later in the period, Temple City went on a 12-0 run that peaked its first-quarter lead at 17 points.
Titans sophomore Lily Mata broke the Rams run with a rare four-point play when the sophomore drained a 3-pointer while being fouled and then sank the free throw. The final points of the first quarter came on a putback at the horn from Titans senior Malia Yu, and it was 28-14 going into the second quarter.
The rest of the game played out 38-34 in favor of Temple City. In the second quarter, San Marino got as close as 10 points at 32-22 with just over three minutes left before halftime following back-to-back baskets by seniors Yu and Lin, but that was as close as the visitors would get the rest of the way.
In the third quarter, the Rams lead grew to 22 twice. After the second time, Mata cut into the Temple City lead with back-to-back 3-pointers, the first assisted by Lin and the second from the corner. The Rams got the final basket of the period and led 55-35 going into the fourth.
Temple City scored the first four points of the fourth for the largest lead of the game at 24, although San Marino would take the quarter 13-11. San Marino set the final margin of 18 points when Angela Li got an offensive rebound and scored for the contest’s final points.
Mata was a bright spot on offense, leading the Titans with 16 points.
“That is the Lily we’ve kind of been waiting for,” Reuter said. “She’s only a sophomore, which is great. But she is a great shooter, who I think is also going to be a great point guard for us as well. We were just kind of waiting for that game for her. I was really happy that that happened for her tonight.”
The sophomore was a willing shooter throughout and had all five of her team’s 3-pointers.
“I just tried to be calm, because usually I rush my shot and it wouldn’t go in, but, today I made sure to take a second and shoot it and that seemed to work,” Mata said.
Titan Kailey Woo had nine points. Lin contributed eight points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Yu had six points and hauled in 13 rebounds. Chloe Linden had three points and Giuliana Reitzell two to round out the scoring. The Rams were led by Kristi Huynh with 22 points.
TITANS HONOR SENIORS
IN FINAL LEAGUE GAME
San Marino played host to La Cañada the regular-season finale on Feb. 1.
The Titans were within one possession at halftime, trailing the Spartans 27-24.
However, La Cañada seized control of the contest in the third quarter, outscoring the hosts 21-6. The final points of the regular season for San Marino came on a layup by Lin, assisted by Woo, to set the final margin of 63-46.
Yu finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Woo had 13 points along with nine rebounds. Lin had nine points and Mata eight.
“We had an opportunity. Didn’t quite work well in the third quarter, but we pulled through and worked as hard as we can and finished with a memorable senior night,” Yu said. “All that matters in the end is that we love each other and had fun.”
After the game, the Titans honored their seniors in Yu, Lin and Sophia Papadopulos.
“They are actually my first freshman class — these three — so they are pretty special to me,” said Reuter of the seniors. “They are four-year varsity players. I don’t think they will ever fully understand the impact they’ve had in helping me create the culture that we want here. They are all hard-working. They are good people, great athletes. … It’s going to be a big loss next year without them here, but I also think they have shared their knowledge and leadership with our underclassmen, so they have been a blessing for four years.”
Despite the two losses to finish the regular season, San Marino (13-11 overall) qualified for an at-large berth into the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA playoffs. The Titans will make the long trek to Santa Maria to face host Valley Christian Academy (10-9) in the opening round on Feb. 8.
First published in the Feb. 8 issue of the San Marino Tribune