Girl’s Basketball: Bishop’s School wins league title in battle of sisters, 61-42
By Ed Piper
Talk about sibling rivalry. The Aguirre sisters — junior Isabel on La Jolla Country Day School’s basketball team, freshmen Alessandra and Karinne playing for The Bishop’s School — take it to the extreme.
They and their respective teams played a grudge match Feb. 21 for the Coastal League title. The twins came up on top in a decisive thrashing of their older sister, 61-42, as Bishop’s ended LJCD’s four-year string of titles and brought the crown home for themselves. Karinne did not score, but Alessandra had five points, four assists, and three steals. Isabel posted six points.
Bishop’s senior Imani Littleton scored 25 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Fellow senior Sierra Ducey grabbed 10 rebounds to go with three assists and eight points.
Bishop’s (6-0 league, 24-5 overall) enters Open Division playoffs at home 7 p.m. Feb. 28, as the No. 1 seed against Horizon (1-5, 9-18). LJCD (4-2, 16-10), the 5th seed, plays at La Costa Canyon the same night. The winners face each other in the semifinals March 5, with the finals at USD March 8.
“We want to win it for our seniors,” said Lady Knight Destiny Littleton before the game, of Imani Littleton (no relation), Ducey, and Christina Frank. The final regular season game was played in Country Day’s gym, so it was actually the Lady Torreys’ Senior Night — Sabrina Callahan, Taylor Johnson and Hadiyah Muhammad were honored after the game in a joint ceremony with the boys game that followed.
It was a brutal battle. It wasn’t an artistic triumph, though both teams played hard. The score was 2-2 after a couple of minutes, with no one being able to make a bucket. There was a lot of bumping, clawing and turnovers.
The Bishop’s press began to harass coach Terri Bamford’s Torreys, as 5-foot guard Malea Casillas was a terror against the Country Day ball-handlers. Fellow sophomore, Layla Cunningham, added her own relentless attacking. The Torreys were visibly struggling to get the ball upcourt. They have missed the absence of former point guard Melanie Quijano.
The Knights built the early lead to 16-8 on a layup by Casillas, when Bamford called a timeout to regroup. But then a turnover led to 20-8 with a Cunningham score inside, then free throws by Destiny Littleton to end the first quarter.
The lead ballooned to 27-11 midway through the second quarter. The home crowd was audibly tense. LJCD cut the lead down at the half on a Johnson bucket. After the Torreys came within 37-29 on another Johnson two with 5:00 left in the third quarter, the relentless Bishop’s tide swamped Country Day and the rout was on, 52-32 one minute into the final frame.
“Our defense didn’t allow them many second chances,” said Ducey. “They had a little bit of a spark after halftime, but we came together and went back to getting the ball to Imani.”
Bishop’s coach Marlon Wells was asked before the game what he wanted his girls thinking about, considering Bishop’s No. 1 ranking in CIF, the title match against LJCD, and the CIF playoffs this week.
“Specifically,” Wells said, “it’s playing defense, rebounding, taking care of the basketball, playing smart fundamental basketball right now at this part of the season, because every possession counts. The games are going to be tight, tightly contested and close, so every possession counts.”
Does he teach the team to play with emotion? “Some kids play with emotion, some don’t,” Wells said. “I kind of let the kids be who they are. Like Imani, she doesn’t play with any emotion at all. But then you got Destiny. She’s clapping it up, slapping ‘em on the butt, you know, things like that. But all the kids are different.”
Destiny’s summation of the Knights’ objective on offense, “We want to push the ball.” Bishop’s attempted 63 shots, making 25, or 40 percent, which is a little ragged. But it worked. u
GAME STATS — Scoring: The Bishop’s School (61): Imani Littleton 25, Destiny Littleton 12, Ducey 8, Cunningham 6, Casillas 5, Alessandra Aguirre 5, Karinne Aguirre 0. La Jolla Country Day School (42): Callahan 12, Henson 11, Ecija 9, Isabel Aguirre 6, Johnson 4, Collins 0, Muhammad 0. — Rebounds: Imani Littleton 15, Ducey 10, Destiny Littleton 6. Blocks: Imani Littleton 6. Steals: Alessandra Aguirre 3. Assists: Alessandra Aguirre 4.
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