GARDENA – The Mark Keppel High girls’ basketball team was completely outgunned on Saturday night and lost to host Serra High, 71-37, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
The Aztecs now wait to see who they’ll play on Wednesday night as this is a double-elimination tournament. (Left - Keppel Guard Michelle Ojiri drives against Serra defender.)
Keppel coach Joe Kikuchi said he was very impressed by Serra’s play.
“I’m going to give credit where credit is due,” Kikuchi said. “They’re so athletic.”
He added the Aztecs just didn’t perform to their ability.
“They did not play anywhere near where they’re capable of playing,” he said. “But this is just going to make them stronger.”
The Aztecs were led by Sophia Song and Viviana Garcia. Song had 12 points and shot 3-for-8 from the floor and 6-for-12 from the free throw line with six rebounds, while Garcia scored 10 points while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the line to go with two rebounds.
The Cavaliers were led by Cheyenne Butler and her game-high 23 points.
Serra coach McKinsey Hadley said after the game his team played very well.
“I think the pressure was good tonight,” said Hadley, whose team won the state championship a year ago. “I think we played extremely hard. I think we played well as a team. We did a good job covering for each other. Our shooters, they did an incredible job shooting the ball. That was one of our points of emphasis, just getting out in the perimeter, challenging the three-point shots, just making it difficult.”
Hadley added he was worried about playing Keppel coming into the game.
“They run a great motion offense,” he said. “They were able to get great looks. So, we just wanted to chase them off the line and do our best to close out without fouling or getting blown by. And I think we did a decent job of that tonight.”
Hadley also said he was very pleased with how Butler played.
“She’s an awesome player,” he said of Butler. “She finds ways to make easy baskets. She finds ways to get baskets that don’t really count against the offense or the defense or against her shot attempts. She finds ways to leak out, the poke a steal and get into position to get an easy basket. She’s opportunistic. I think that’s a good word for Cheyenne.”