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SCCS finds hill too steep

Cardinals face a climb early and can’t recover

Posted: January 15, 2009 10:57 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2009 4:56 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian basketball player Jenna Dennis, far right, sits on the bench distraught after the Cardinals lost 55-29 to Milken on Thursday.

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Santa Clarita Christian knew it was facing a tough opponent in its Heritage League opener.

The first quarter drove that point home with a sledgehammer.

Milken Community scored the game’s first 20 points and held a 24-4 lead after the first quarter en route to a 55-29 victory Thursday at Santa Clarita Christian.

“I knew (Milken Community) was going to come out that way,” said Cardinals head coach Bob Gaby. “I told the girls to relax, be patient. We’ve broken the press in the past, but we were not mentally prepared for that pressure.”

Santa Clarita Christian’s Michelle Fechteketter scored her team’s first points with three minutes left in the first quarter, a quarter trademarked by Milken Community’s hounding press defense.

“I expect us to do that,” said Wildcats head coach Barb Iversen. “We went to a tournament at Disney World recently and played some tough competition. We have a lot of returnees back, and we expect to come out like that.”

Karla Eberlein scored 19 points to lead the Cardinals and did most of the ball-handling on offense.

“She’s a tremendous athlete,” Gaby said. “She’s the team leader, she sets the spirits, the momentum and the tone. When the chips get down, she’ll fight harder.”

Santa Clarita Christian fought harder after the first quarter as a team. Although Milken Community primarily played its reserves the rest of the way, the Cardinals began to force turnovers and hit shots.

Gaby also noted that Fechteketter, who had missed time due to injury, gives the Cardinals another big, athletic presence in the front court to go along with Eberlein.

“Michelle is still learning to play with her,” Gaby said. “Karla’s excited to have her.”

Laide Akao scored six points in support for Santa Clarita Christian, while Kaitlyn Preheim had the team’s only other basket.

A total of 11 players scored for Milken Community and Lindsey Davidson was the only one to hit double-figures with 12 points.

“It was a great opportunity to play the last eight kids,” Iversen said. “I have a lot of respect for Santa Clarita Christian and their coach.”

The Cardinals will travel to Thacher at 5 p.m. today.

jgulino@the-signal.com

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