First published in the Jan. 26 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
When the Westridge and Mayfield Senior girls’ basketball teams prepared for their first meeting of the season, a win by either school against its neighborhood rival would provide a point of light.
As the game unfolded, visiting Mayfield struggled on offense in the first half and host Westridge was able to take advantage en route to the Tigers posting a 40-31 win in Prep League play last Tuesday evening.
“I thought pretty much everyone on our team that got into the game played amazing,” Westridge coach Ashley Boggs said. “We always talk about effort first, and the kids came out and played super hard. It feels good to get a Prep League win and just see the improvement throughout the season. We are on the rise and it is nice to see that.”
Westridge (2-10 overall, 1-6 league) had a double-digit advantage early in the third quarter, but Mayfield rallied and the Tigers found themselves trailing by three going into the final period.
To open the fourth, Westridge poured in the first six points to take back the lead and draw a timeout from Mayfield (4-13 overall, 1-6 league) looking to stem the tide.
Mayfield’s Annika Mashiko banked in a jumper after the timeout but, after that, the Tigers went on an 8-0 run.
Westridge’s Isabel De Leon started it with a putback. Soon after, Sarah Kong made a steal and passed it to Ariana Epstein for a fast break basket. De Leon then made a steal and scored again on the fast break. After a Cubs’ turnover, Kong finished the run with another layup.
Mayfield’s Christine Ellis scored the next four points, but the final four points of the contest were Westridge’s, coming from the free throw line to set the final margin.
De Leon led all scorers with 16 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Kong was the other Tiger to record a field goal in each quarter on the way to 11 points. Jaime Riechmann had five points, all in the final period. Epstein had four points and Jaedyn Tsang and Angela Li each had two points.
“It was a lot of teamwork. We’ve been working a long time to get to this place, so it was nice to see it play out in a game,” Kong said. “We expected it to be close, so it was fun and it was a nice win.”
Mashiko came off the bench to lead Mayfield in scoring with 11 points, including three makes from beyond the arc in the third quarter. Kristen Awakuni had eight points while playing strong defense. Ellis finished with six points. Maddie Domingo, Mia Aguilar and Maia Mashiko had three, two and one points, respectively, to round out the scoring.
“We got behind and fought our way back in. We just lost our poise a little bit,” Mayfield coach Kenneth Fisher said. “Just little things that we can take care of.”
Offense was hard to come by for the Cubs in the first half as the visitors managed just two field goals in each of the first two quarters, after which they trailed, 16-8.
“In the first half we couldn’t hit the side of a barn,” Walker said.
The third quarter saw the Cubs come to life on the way to winning the period 17-6. Just under two minutes into the third quarter, Tsang dished an assist to Kong to make the score 20-9 in favor of the hosts, which would be the biggest advantage for either squad.
Mayfield then went on an 8-0 run that consisted of two 3-pointers from Annika Mashiko and a steal of an inbounds pass by Awakuni under her own hoop leading to a made basket.
De Leon broke the run with a basket from in close assisted by Kong, making the score 22-17, but Mayfield went on to score the final eight points of the period after that. It started with Annika Mashiko banking in her second three of the quarter.
The Cubs finally knotted the score at 22-22 with 25 seconds left after Awakuni hit the front end of a one-and-one opportunity from the free throw line.
Westridge then turned the ball over with three seconds left. It was just enough time for Annika Mashiko to set up Domingo, who drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to stake her team to a three-point lead headed into the fourth.
“There are four quarters in a game,” Boggs said. “Teams go on runs. That is basketball and I’m just so proud of [my team’s] composure. That has been a really big thing we’re working on and it just shows our growth as a team tonight.”