Knights’ girls’ basketball (7-4) won its non-league matchup on Friday night as Trinity took down the visiting Simi Valley Pioneers (6-7), 66-43. Trinity junior Emma Schaaf had a phenomenal night, finishing with 25 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, six blocks and three steals.
The Knights came out with their usual intensity, throwing different defenses at the Pioneers while still full-court pressing. Simi Valley had a size advantage in the game but Trinity was still able to play strong defense and force tough shots.
“Simi is a team with really good size but we felt like if we sped up the tempo of the game, we’d have an advantage,” said Knights head coach James De Monbrun. “So, we decided we’re going to pick up from the start and we haven’t done that in a long time. But with Lily (Caddow) back, that’s one more body that you have in your tool case.”
Knights point guard Caddow had missed seven games with an ankle injury before returning to the lineup Friday.
The Wheaton College-commit showed no signs of rust with a 13-point, three-assist and three-steal performance in Caddow’s return to the court.
Trinity’s defense got better as the game went on as the team forced Simi into tough shots.
Pioneer guard Sahasra Anne led the team with eight points.
Senior Malia Duarte was one of several defensive forces for the Knights. Duarte led the Knights with five steals and also added a block.
“Malia, she is just like a fiend on defense,” said Caddow. “In practice, she’s just the best to go up against. I always want her on me because she challenges me so much. And tonight she caused so many turnovers it was great. Emma was down there getting all those blocks. I mean, every girl contributes. Every girl is jumping the lane, playing quick and hard. So I’m proud of them.”
The Knights opened up the second quarter on a 9-2 run. They then held the Pioneers to just seven points in the third quarter as Trinity pulled away. All Knights starters were out with four minutes left in the game with the game in hand and a season-high 66 points on the board.
Knights senior Ella Stepan was key in the victory with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Schaaf had yet another big night but was more excited for what is to come for the Knights.
“I think it’s going pretty good and as the season goes on, we’ll definitely get better,” said Schaaf.
Trinity won’t be playing for its fifth consecutive Heritage League championship this season. That title was forfeited over by the league in the offseason, so the Knights are trying to get everything they can from tough non-league games.
“Without a league season, it’s strange,” said De Monbrun. “It’s really strange, because we’re not really gearing up for anything other than the playoffs and that’s still two months away. So just like in the preseason our goal is to get a little bit better every day. We want to be better tomorrow than we were. We were better today because we were healthier.”
The Knights are indeed better than they were yesterday with the return of their point guard. Caddow is the team’s primary ball handler, so in her absence the team was forced to adjust. De Monbrun was nonetheless pleased with his team’s play in their point guard’s absence.
“When you lose your primary ball handler, other girls are gonna have to step into different roles and roles that are not natural to them,” said De Monbrun. “But the absence of Lily forced us into that and Ella Stepan really stepped up in those games. Emma Schaaf we had to rely on even more than we do, normally, which is a lot and getting her back tonight, we looked more natural and more fluid because she’s a two-time All-CIF player. If you get to add that, you’re going to be better.”
Trinity will return to non-league action on Monday when the team hosts Agoura at 7 p.m.