By SHEL SEGAL
NORWALK – The Keppel girls basketball team scored the game’s first 34 points and easily cruised to a 65-14 victory over host Norwalk on Friday night in a semifinal game of the Norwalk Tournament at Norwalk High School.
The Aztecs led 24-0 after the first quarter and built a 42-3 halftime lead. Norwalk didn’t score until halfway through the second quarter when Crystal Lambey made the first of two free-throw attempts.
Keppel plays in the tournament final tonight at 8 p.m. as it takes on Crescenta Valley at John Glenn High School.
Esther Quon led Keppel with a game-high 15 points. She said the Aztecs are really starting to get comfortable playing out on the court with one another.
“I think one thing that really helped is we fed off each other,” Quon said. “Even though we didn’t expect it, when someone started scoring each person took that energy and helped the team.”
Quon added while it’s good to score points, it’s just as good to stop the other team from performing on the court.
“Turning your defense into your offense helps,” she said. “Knowing you can’t do everything with your offense is important, knowing you have to work hard on defense first and it helps with offense.”
Jocelyn Song scored 10 points for the Aztecs, while Katie Kuang added nine points and Alyssa Lee walked away with eight.
Sally Smith, who finished with three points, said once the Aztecs hit a few shots, they just kept coming and coming.
“I think we’re a team that goes off our momentum,” she said. “Once we hit that first shot, we kept scoring. We kept playing that good (defense). We keep pushing and pushing.”
Keppel coach Jose Herrera said he knew his team was talented, but he didn’t expect such a big victory over Norwalk.
“I didn’t see this coming, especially after (Thursday’s) game (a 17-point win over Rolling Hills Prep in a tournament quarterfinal),” he said. “But today, it was a whole different team. This is how we look like, but we have to make sure we keep it consistent against not just Norwalk, but everybody that we play. We came out with this energy. And that was probably the big thing today.”
He added he tried to keep the game plan simple for Keppel and it worked.
“I just told (the Aztecs) to focus on two things,” Herrera said. “One, just stay in front. And rebounding. That’s all we needed to do. But unfortunately for (Norwalk) all our shots went in. And it wasn’t just from one player. It was from everyone who threw up a shot, it looked like.”
Norwalk coach Ashley Baclaan said her team shouldn’t get down on itself following the lopsided loss.
“I just hope they feel like they did their best,” she said. “That’s all we wanted. We just want them to compete, try to make them work and just learn the speed of another team. It’s all good.”