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Troy unable to recover from shaky start
AZUSA – The frustration began for Troy in the game’s opening minute.
After picking off a West Torrance pass from atop its 2-3 zone, Warriors senior point guard Cori Okeda forced her uncontested layup at the other end of the floor, consequently setting the unfortunate theme of the night for the Freeway League champs.
Offense proved hard to come by for second-seeded Troy on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors were held to seven points or less in each of the first three quarters and found themselves on the losing end of a 52-41 affair against West Torrance in the CIF-SS Division 1A championship game at Azusa Pacific University.
“I think the biggest problem for us is we didn’t control the backboards, and we didn’t control the effort that we can control,” Troy coach Roger Anderson said. “(West Torrance) came out with a lot of energy and jumped on us early. The second half was a one-point game. But in the first half, we came out with jitters.”
The Warriors (24-9) missed their first eight shots of the game, including two transition layups and a put back underneath its basket. Because it didn’t score until the 3:25 point in the first quarter, Troy always trailed.
“You put those (baskets) back into that frame, it’s a totally different first quarter,” Anderson added. “But that dictates the other half of it, and we started pressing.”
The Warriors went 4 for 24 from the field in the first half. Junior forward Rebecca Lazuka accounted for three of those field goals, leading the Warriors with seven points at the break.
Barbara Sitanggan – the team’s top scorer headed into the finals – started 0 for 9 from the floor and Troy trailed, 23-13, at halftime.
“I was trying to just to get them to relax,” Anderson said. “Bless their hearts, there was so much riding on it for them. They wanted it for our coach (Steve Yano) that passed away, and they tried so hard.”
West Torrance (24-7), which had a taller, more physical squad, continued to stifle Troy after halftime, limiting it to four points in the third. As a result, West Torrance took its largest lead of the afternoon into the fourth, 37-17.
Sitanggan (10 points) hit her only two field goals in the final two minutes. Lazuka finished with a team-high 12 points.
Despite outscoring West Torrance, 24-15, in the fourth, Troy only briefly cut its deficit to single digits in the final minute of regulation.
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