When the season began in late November, Tammy Lai didn’t know how good her team could be, but the South Pasadena High girls’ basketball coach will tell you four months later, “We knew we had a very special group of kids.”
Indeed, they did.
The Tigers finished a memorable 21-7 season Saturday night, going toe-to-toe with Lakeside High in Lake Elsinore most of the way before falling to the Lancers 64-56 in the second round of the CIF State Division III girls’ basketball playoffs. It was a memorable run after the Tigers beat Sierra of Tollhouse 74-69 in first round action.
South Pas was invited to the state competition after winning the Rio Hondo League with a 9-1 record and going deep in the CIF playoffs, dropping a 50-43 contest to Inglewood in the semifinals after handing Gabrielino a 72-59 loss and routing Ocean View 51-29 to open the postseason.
“We knew that if we worked hard on fundamentals and taught them to play outside the box, they would be good,” said Lai, who guided the Tigers to the Rio Hondo League title with a 9-1 mark. “Our athleticism has surprised a lot of teams.”
Winning was simply the byproduct of a team that enjoyed playing together, going the extra mile on the court and taking the necessary steps to get better with every practice.
“I think we all have a lot of fun when we are together,” said Lai, when asked to pinpoint why her club was so successful. “They came out everyday, doing the things they needed to do to get better. They knew when to have fun and they knew when to focus (in practice and games.) These girls want to win and they come out everyday putting their best effort out there.”
And, what makes this team so special?
“They genuinely like each other and enjoy playing together,” explained the Tigers’ coach. “We have a really close group of girls and coaching staff, and there’s a trust that just seems to work. We had high expectations coming into this season. They just kept doing things that made them one of the (best), if not the best, South Pasadena girls’ basketball teams (ever).”
- : By Bill Glazier Review Editor