Fairmont Prep pulls away once defense takes over


The score was deadlocked at the half in large part because of Fairmont Prep’s shortcomings on the defensive end of the floor.

While minor tweaks were made to the game plan in the locker room, the ultimate change came in the form of effort and hustle.

Revving up the intensity and defensive pressure in the second half, the fourth-ranked Huskies pulled away to beat visiting St. Anthony of Long Beach, 60-41, in a nonleague game Tuesday at Fairmont Prep.

Junior point guard Tristen Rollon led all scorers with 20 points, and teammate Cierra Hall added 14 for the Huskies (12-2).

“We tried to light a fire under them at halftime,” Fairmont Prep coach Dave Esparza said. “Good tenacious defense led to easy offense for us after the break. We couldn’t let them outhustle us in our own gym. They’re a very athletic, well-coached team. But they can’t want it more than us in our own house.”

The Saints (7-7) dominated the glass in the first and second quarters, pulling down 16 offensive boards in the opening half. With all of those extra shots per possession, St. Anthony was tied, 27-27, with the Huskies at the intermission.

“We noticed our pace was slow, we weren’t communicating on the floor and we weren’t playing together like we usually do,” Rollon said. “Second half, we got after it.”

Switching from a matchup zone to a man defense, Fairmont held St. Anthony to two third-quarter points and forced seven turnovers. The Saints shot 1 for 10 in the period.

With the Huskies pushing the pace in the second half, Fairmont took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and its lead grew to 26 in the fourth.

Also in nonleague games:

La Habra 50, Whittier Christian 35: Senior forward Amanda Cuervo scored 23 points and grabbed 17 boards – both season highs – in the Highlanders’ win at home. La Habra held the Heralds to single-digit points in each of the first three quarters.

No. 5 Orangewood Academy 51, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Montebello 38: Jacqueline Saucedo (15 points), Elizabeth Garcia (14) and Yvonne Ornelas (10) helped the Spartans (13-0) notch a road victory and remain unbeaten.

Corona del Mar 48, Newport Harbor 26: The Sea Kings utilized their size advantage in the post, getting a combined 24 points from Natalia Bruening and her younger sister, Tatiana, to earn their fifth straight win in the annual Battle of the Bay game.

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