By SHEL SEGAL
ALHAMBRA – The Keppel girls basketball team scored the game’s first nine points and cruised to a 63-22 victory over visiting Bell Gardens on Tuesday night in the Almont League opener for both teams. Jocelyn Song led the Aztecs (13-3, 1-0 AL) with 13 points, while Alyssa Lee scored 12 points and Fanny Tu added 10.
Song said playing solid defense was paramount in getting the victory for the Aztecs.
“The defense is really good right now,” she said. “We’re creating turnovers, creating pressure so that (several players) could get steals. That’s really key.”
But she added there are some areas where Keppel still needs to improve.
“I think we could probably make more shots and limit our turnovers,” Song said.
Lee said the Aztecs had two main components that were working well against Bell Gardens.
“Definitely, our communication and our defensive press,” she said. “We created a lot of turnovers and tips and would just go for the fast break.”
Keppel coach Jose Herrera said the team’s defense made it easier for the Aztecs to score points.
“Everything seemed to be falling,” he said. “We followed our game plan. It all started defensively. Our defense created our offense. And we hit our shots. Any time we hit our shots we’re dangerous.”
He added playing a press defense is basically the Aztecs’ trademark.
“That’s been our tradition,” Herrera said. “We’ve always pressed, but we’re throwing a lot of different types of presses at people. This year we’re not just sticking to one press. This year we’re mixing it around. And it’s worked.”
Jiselle Cabrera led Bell Gardens (10-5, 0-1) with seven points.
Bell Gardens coach Andres Guzman said the Lancers weren’t playing up to a level where they should be performing.
“We just weren’t executing everything that we needed to do,” he said. “We weren’t doing the fundamentals. Unfortunately, we need to fix that up.”
And despite the team’s early-season success, Herrera said he doesn’t want his players to get too overconfident.
“I keep telling them, ‘We can’t look ahead,’” he said. “We can only take it one game at a time.”
He added his team fell victim early and often to Keppel’s press defense.
“(Bell Gardens) should understand how to play under pressure and that should get us ready for future games that we have,” Guzman said.