By Ed PiperThe Bishop’s girls basketball team, ranked No. 1 in San Diego CIF, put on a clinic on its home court as the Knights hosted crosstown La Jolla and schooled the Vikings in the way top-echelon is played, 68-31, Jan. 11.
What was one of the best parts of it was that Coach Dave Westhem’s visiting Vikes (9-6) seemed to actually like the spanking, despite the 37-point difference. For them the furious, relentless attack of the state-power Knights (16-1) provided a means for La Jolla to grow in preparation for Western League play and the CIF playoffs at the end of February.
Bishop’s star Imani Littleton, headed for play at St. John’s University after high school, dropped jaws with her speed in running the court and ability to finish at the basket with hard-driving layups. She scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Likewise, the Knights’ other big gun, Destiny Littleton, no relation, played physical and big, drove the middle and shot from outside, and slammed into the girl she was guarding, if need be, as part of Coach Marlon Wells’ team-wide full-court pressure and break-neck pace on offense. She led all scorers with 29 points and had 10 rebounds.
Afterward, Destiny, the polar opposite of Imani’s quietness verbally, allowed as how she was impressed that La Jolla didn’t fold under her team’s smothering coverage. “Usually, a team that we beat by that much gives up,” she smiled. “La Jolla didn’t.” She remarked on the promise Viking center Madeleine Gates, a 6-2 sophomore, showed against Bishop’s. Gates scored nine points, grabbed 13 rebounds off the glass, and got considerable experience inside jostling Imani and trying to put a hand up each time a Knight invaded the key.
From the opening tip, Bishop’s, ranked sixth in California, coming off a four-point loss to Etiwanda of Inland Empire, looked shot out of a gun with Destiny taking the tip from Imani to score a driving layup in the first three seconds.
The Knights forced a turnover on La Jolla’s first offensive possession. Then, guard Alessandra “Ale” (pronounced ah-lay) Aguirre pulled up for a shot from beyond the three-point line. And though it missed, the tone was set—Bishop’s was going to drive madly to their basket each time they got the ball.
La Jolla was obviously harried, but the Vikings were willing to tussle. Jenna Harmeyer shot a rare outside bank shot to tie at 2-2. But that would be the last time the visitors would equal their hosts’ score.
Bishop’s’ Malea Casillas scored on a three-pointer from the left, Imani drove for a layup, and it was 7-2.
Sophie Sowers followed her own missed outside shot to score for the Vikings. But after Amanda Polcyn’s jump shot to bring La Jolla within 8-6, Bishop’s would never look back. Imani, Destiny, and company led 21-6 on Destiny’s one of two free throw attempts, finally 24-10 at the end of the first quarter following the Vikes’ Sierra Westhem scoring on a layup under pressure. The halftime score was 40-20.
Coach Wells, affable and friendly with his counterpart Westhem in the new crosstown matchup, said his team tries to shoot every 10 seconds. He complimented Westhem on the program he is building at La Jolla, a far cry from the level the Vikings played at three years ago. Wells is in his eighth year at the private school.
Destiny has a healthy way of looking at sports. Asked if the non-league game, which doesn’t count in the standings, would be fun for her, she replied: “All the games are fun. That’s the way they should be.” She played with an energy and go-for-it approach that fit very well with her attitude toward the game and helped make it enjoyable to watch.
• BISHOP’S– Points (68): Destiny Littleton 29, Imani Littleton 21, Alessandra Aguirre 6, Karinne Aguirre 5, Cunningham 4, Casillas 3, Furtek 0, Pan 0, Frank 0, Seymanski 0, Edwards 0. Rebounds: Destiny Littleton 10, Imani Littleton 10. Free throws: Destiny Littleton 7-13, Ale Aguirre 4-11, Imani Littleton 1-2, Karinne Aguirre 1-2, Casillas 1-2.•
LA JOLLA– Points (31): Gates 9, Harmeyer 6, Sowers 5, Tajran 5, Polcyn 2, Westhem 2, Sakura Roberson 2, Satori Roberson 0. Rebounds: Gates 13, Sowers 6, Westhem 4, Sakura Roberson 3, Tajran 3. Assists – Harmeyer 2. Free throws: Gates 5-8, Sowers 4-5.