If there was any doubt about which girls basketball team is the best in San Diego County, the debate was settled Monday afternoon at Point Loma Nazarene University.
La Jolla Country Day continued its fierce out-of-conference schedule as it faced off with San Diego High in the Hall of Champions Girls’ Showcase, taking out the reigning Division I CIFSD champs, 52-42.
The game lived up to the hype, at least until the Torreys (15-3 overall) fell behind in the second half.
The Cavers, led by Tia Dixon, who hs committed to San Diego State, took a 28-26 led with three minutes to play in the third quarter as Dixon knocked down one of her five 3-pointers on the game. Little did she know that was the spark the Torreys needed to pick up their pace.
“Our kids don’t like to lose,” La Jolla Country Day coach Terri Bamford said. “They’ve been on a big stage and in tough games before. I think that they maintain their composure and they went back to the things that make us successful, which is executing, taking the right shot for our team.”
From that point on, the Torreys took command of the game and never looked back. Sophomore Kelsey Plum led the team with 23 points while teammate Maya Hood added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
“Country Day is good and I really believe they are going to be our toughest opponent in San Diego,” Cavers coach Lonnie Smith said. “This definitely is going to help us go back to the Division I championship game.”
For the Torreys, the game showed that they are starting to get back to full strength as a team. Of the team’s three losses this season, all of them came when they were without Plum, who suffered a mouth injury last month at the Nike Tournament in Phoenix. The only visual remnant of her injury is a facemask she wears during games. Monday she was playing her third game with it.
“It’s all mental — I can still breathe,” Plum said.
The mask didn’t seem to slow her down at all. Midway through the fourth quarter, Plum single handily put the game out of reach with eight straight points — two 3s and two free throws — to give the Torreys a 44-35 edge with less than 3 minutes to play.
Smith said the biggest difference between his team and LJCD was that the Torreys were more disciplined.
“I think we play fast, but I think in order to win games, you have to be able to execute plays and get open shots,” Bamford said of the compliment. “It takes five (players on the court) to win a ball game and when you get against the same kind of athleticisms and speed, I think you have to execute to get open looks. I think we did an excellent job in that fourth quarter and knocking the shots down.”
The Torreys will continue their stiff schedule Friday night as they host Bishop’s. There are still a few non-conference games on the horizon — including a trip to Mater Dei in Santa Ana — that will test this team before the post season begins.
“There is definitely room for improvement, we got to keep pushing,” Maya Hood said. “We got to keep pushing as a team, keep pushing each other individually and make each other better.”