Girls’ basketball ekes out fourth quarter win, advances to state quarterfinals

By Lara Sokoloff

Unable to maintain their offensive prowess in the second half, the girls’ basketball team fell 76-60 to the Rialto High School Knights Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the state basketball tournament.

Both teams played a quick-paced, heavily offensive game throughout the first, ending the first half at 35-36 Rialto. Skylar Tsutsui ’11, Natalie Florescu ’11, and Esther Lee ’11 each sunk multiple three-pointers throughout the first half, allowing the Wolverines to come back from Rialto’s initial four-point lead and take the lead 30-26 in the second quarter. The first half was truly a battle, with both teams falling into their strides offensively.

However, from the opening whistle of the second half, the Knights dominated, up 44-35 three minutes in to the third quarter. The Wolverines were not able to put in a shot until Lee’s lay-up in the fourth minute. One of Rialto’s keys to success lay in their 6’3 center Denae “Mary” Williams, who with 25 points and 18 rebounds proved too much for the Wolverines to handle.
In the end, the Wolverines failed to find their stride in the second half, and the Knights appeared as if they couldn’t miss. Consequently the Knights held a strong lead throughout the second half, ranging from 12 to 20 points.

The final score of 76-60 was indicative of the Wolverine’s lackluster performance in the second half, but did not reflect their efforts of the first.

Rialto High School drew a massive crowd, packing their side of the gym and flooding into the Wolverine bleachers. Not many Fanatics attended, and consequently the Wolverine’s small crowd was primarily parents.

The girls had advanced to the regionals Thursday night in Taper, beating Inglewood, 61-52, led by a strong effort from guard Natalie Florescu ’13.

 Inglewood entered the game looking to utilize their strength, size, and aggressiveness to dictate a fast paced game and rattle the Wolverines. The Wolverines responded well with sharp offensive execution and a tenacity on defense, which allowed them to get open looks at the basket.

The two teams were evenly matched seeing that the game was tied at 29 at the half and tied with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Clutch three pointers by Florescu and star senior Skylar Tsutsui ’11, the team’s leading scorer, helped the Wolverines build a 50-43 lead with 2:45 left in the game, and the team held on from there, making free throws and another three pointer down the stretch to preserve the lead as Inglewood resorted to fouling.