The Santa Clarita Christian School girls basketball team opened up the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A tournament with a 44-32 win over Lutheran of La Verne at SCCS on Thursday night.
“As a team, we’ve been working very hard practicing every day and I think we’re all just really excited to move on to the second playoff game,” said sophomore Kelly Lotz.
Lotz led all players with a game-high 13 points. She scored the first two points of the game on a layup as the Cardinals (18-7 overall) dictated the pace of play from the start.
“I think tonight we had just a lot of energy on the court and maybe a little too much to where we were fighting around a little bit,” Lotz said. “But I think we kept our composure moving the ball around and getting it in to our post players. There’s just an attitude of every girl wants to help the other girl and no man left behind kind of thing.”
The Trojans (14-8) were able to counter with two points of their own, but a 3-pointer from Emily Bernards with 5:40 to go in the first quarter put SCCS in the lead and the team never looked back.
Lotz made a long-range jumper and then a 3-pointer in the final two minutes of the quarter to continue the Cards’ hot scoring. SCCS closed out the first quarter with a 14-6 advantage.
“It’s just, shoot every shot like it’s gonna go in and if it doesn’t go in just shoot the next one,” Lotz said of her shooting mentality. “They’re not all going to go in so you just have to keep shooting.”
Lutheran was able to score a handful of points of its own with contributions from Amanda Garcia and Tamee Wilson. They took turns driving to the net for layups to cut the deficit in the second quarter, but the Cards were able to hang on and head into the break with a 28-13 lead.
Jordan Schwesinger made her return to the team four games ago after healing up from a collarbone injury and has hardly skipped a beat. Schwesinger, a freshman, ended the game with eight points.
“The moment she stepped back on the court it was like she never left,” Lotz said of Schwesinger. “She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met we’re very excited to have her on the team and I know she’s going to make a huge impact. She already has.”
The Cardinals never looked back from their lead in the third and fourth quarters and were able to consistently get into scoring territory with their up-tempo style of play, something they hope to continue as they head into the second round of the postseason.
In the next round of the Division 5A playoffs, SCCS will play Vista del Lago of Moreno Valley on Saturday. Vista del Lago beat Dunn 62-12 on Thursday night.
“I think better composure,” Lotz said of what her team wants to add to its game. “Our leaders stepping up, including me, and just having that focus of wanting to win the game.”