Varsity Girls’ Basketball Beats San Gabriel

Varsity girls’ basketball defeated San Gabriel 64-47 during the first round of CIF Southern Section Girls’ Basketball playoffs Thursday, Feb. 16 at home.

Point guard senior Jenna Pitpit led the Mustangs with 18 points, three assists and five steals. Alongside Pitpit, center junior Yasmin Dabbous also contributed 18 points along with nine rebounds. Walnut began the game with a man-to-man defense strategy, forcing turnovers from the San Gabriel Matadors. With the Matadors struggling on offense, the first quarter ended 14-8.

“[Even though I was top scorer], I don’t consider my personal achievements more important than the team win. Our movement off the ball was decent, which allowed us to get in behind the pockets in their defense,” Dabbous said. “As a team, San Gabriel was very physical and fought for the loose ball every time. We had to adjust to that aggressiveness [and] have consistent defense.”

San Gabriel gained momentum in the second quarter by breaking Walnut’s defensive lines. After turnovers from both Pitpit and small forward sophomore Kaitlin Day, the Matadors pushed their offensive line against the Mustangs. Both teams scored 17 points, ending the half 31-25.

“I was a little upset with how I played because I was missing my free throws, but I was able to gain back my motivation after knocking down a couple of shots. We had a lot of transition points, and that worked well in our favor,” shooting guard senior Caitlin Fu said. “The atmosphere was really lively because a crowd was supporting us the entire game. That helped push us towards the win.”

In the third quarter, the Mustangs switched their defense to a 1-3-1 zone, allowing them to better defend inside the key and force turnovers. By the end of the second half, the Mustangs gained 33 points, while the Matadors scored 22 points. With a comfortable lead, Walnut sealed the game 64-47.

“I knew that from here on out, any game could be our last. I think that thought helped push us towards a win. Our offense did well because they weren’t selfish. Instead of taking the shot, we [passed] it to someone else who [had] a better opportunity,” shooting guard sophomore Annie Hwang said. “From here, practices will just become more intense. The mentality of our team is going to remain strong, and we will be creating new plays that teams have never seen before.”

By Sarah Aie and Jeremy Hsiao, Sports editors

Photo by Anna Yu