HomeBlocksFront-GridLate Rally Stymies San Marino Girls' Basketball's Playoff Bid

Late Rally Stymies San Marino Girls’ Basketball’s Playoff Bid

After traveling three hours north to Santa Maria for the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA playoffs, the San Marino girls’ basketball team came home for round two, looking to keep the season alive hosting Santa Paula.

The Titans held a lead at halftime against the visiting Cardinals, but Santa Paula tightened the defensive screws in the second half and held off San Marino 42-34, bringing the Titans’ season to a close.

“I think in the second half we just got stymied,” San Marino coach Elizabeth Reuter said. “It was really hard for us to score, but I thought we were still doing some really great things. We were taking great shots, they just won’t fall in the end.”

San Marino (14-12 overall) held a 23-19 advantage at halftime, leading to a third quarter where offense was at a premium. Santa Paula (21-8) had the only point of the opening three minutes of the second half before Titans junior Kailey Woo made a layup. That would be it for the hosts in the frame, as the visitors scored the final seven points of the quarter for a 27-25 lead going into the fourth.

At the start of the final period, Titans senior Malia Yu made two free throws, making it a tie game for a berth in the quarterfinals.

Santa Paula, the Citrus League champion, scored the next five points, but Woo scored the next four in the paint. Cardinal freshman Aryanna Lopez, who would have eight of her team-high 12 points in the fourth, made a layup for a three-point lead.

Titan Lily Mata then hit a 3-pointer, assisted by Chloe Lin, to knot the score at 34-34 around the midway point of the quarter. The Titans offense was silent after that, and Santa Paula scored the final eight points of the contest to take the win.

“Second half [we] were resilient,” Santa Paula coach Frank Jordan said. “San Marino is very good, tough team. They are very fast and very quick. We had to adjust to what they [were doing]. They were really long when they jump all over the ball. Our defense had to learn to be patient. Offensively we had to be patient, because if we hadn’t been patient, they would have kept tipping our balls and kept stealing them. So we had to fake a couple passes, make some passes [and] understand the game. The flow of the game was working and started going in our favor towards that end.”

Woo scored a game-high 16 points, including 10 in the first half, and added 12 rebounds. Mata had six points. Seniors Yu, Lin and Sophia Papadopulos, in what turned out to be their final game as Titans, scored six, four and two points respectively. Yu also pulled down 11 rebounds and had four steals.

Photo by Nathan Cambridge / Titan basketball seniors Kobee Wong, Malia Yu, Sophia Papadopulos and Chloe Lin.

“Anytime you can make your way into the playoffs it’s a good thing,” Reuter said. “We had three seniors who really wanted this to last as long as possible, and I really think they gave it their all from the beginning of the season to the end.”

The Titans came out strong in the first quarter, after which the hosts held a 12-8 edge. Woo had five points in the frame, including a make from long distance.

“We had a good start. It’s always nice when you hit your first couple of shots,” said Reuter, whose Titans were ranked No. 13 in the division. “I think defensively, our full court pressure was kind of a question mark for the other team and what to do.”

In the second quarter the Titan lead peaked at nine points after a fast-break layup by Lin. Santa Paula scored the next seven before Woo hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass tipped by the Cardinals before the junior got her hands on it. Yu scored the final point of the half with 43 seconds left on a free throw to give the Titans the four-point lead at the break before the tide turned.

“This is a team that has great chemistry,” Papadopulos said. “We worked really hard. We bonded so, so well and there was a connection that was really special about this team. I’m so incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve as a group.”


In round one, San Marino took down host Valley Christian Academy 60-47. The Titans built a 22-point cushion going into the fourth quarter, after outscoring the Lions 18-4 in the third. Four Titans reached double digits, led by Lin and Mata with 15 points apiece. Lin also had six assists, five rebounds and five steals. Yu and Woo both had double-doubles, with the senior scoring 11 points, getting 14 rebounds and eight steals. Woo had 10 points to go with 12 rebounds.

That earned the Titans the shot at the quarterfinals hosting Santa Paula, but it was not to be as the season ended at home.

“A successful season,” Reuter said after the game against the Cardinals. “We’re still one of 16 teams in our division to make it this far, so that is something that should not be overlooked. I’m really, really proud of the effort the girls gave.”

First published in the Feb. 15 issue of the San Marino Tribune

Photo by Sebastian Moore / The San Marino High School varsity girls’ basketball team includes Madeleine Tanihaha (front, from left), Joyce Lin, Sophia Papadopulos, Chloe Lin and Chloe Linden. Back: Angela Li, Joleen Tanihaha, Giuliana Reitzell, Liliana Mata, Malia Yu and Kailey Woo.


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