By Jeremy Balan
The Washington girls basketball team achieved its main objective Monday — contain Malaysia Basallo.
The Eagles denied Basallo the ball throughout and blanketed her when she did get possession to hold the City’s leading scorer to seven points in a 53-41 win in Academic Athletic Association play at Balboa.
The Balboa standout senior came into the game averaging more than 20 points per game, but her point total on Monday was her lowest of the season.
“Even when she got the ball, we stayed in front of her,” said Washington head coach Vince Wong. “We want to make sure that if she is going to score, it’s going to be tough.”
While holding Basallo down, the Eagles (7-9, 2-0) countered with a balanced offensive attack, led by senior forwards Karah Butac and Grace Lui.
Butac and Lui scored 13 points apiece, and had a dominating rebounding performance. The frontcourt pair is far from imposing (Butac is listed at 5-foot-9, while Lui stands at 5-foot-7), but took in a combined 33 rebounds.
“They did an excellent job,” Wong said. “Both of them had double-doubles tonight and that’s a reason for celebration for them.”
With Basallo limited, another Balboa guard took command of the Buccaneers’ offense. Senior guard Chanel Malone scored a game-high 23 points, all after the first quarter, but could not lead the Bucs (7-9, 1-2) to victory on her own.
Malone appeared unstoppable at times, but she was the only Balboa player to make a basket in the second half and scored 15 of the Buccaneers’ 19 points after halftime.
The rest of the Buccaneers went 0-of-17 from the floor in the second half and Washington pulled away steadily after leading just 24-22 at the halftime break. Balboa was still in striking distance after the third quarter, trailing 39-31, but missed its first nine shots from the floor in the fourth, which allowed the Eagles to go on a 9-1 run to put the game out of reach.
Malone hit 10-of-20 shots from the floor, but the rest of the Bucs shot just 5-of-42 from the field.
“One person is not going to get it done,” said Balboa head coach Keith Smith. “We needed both of them, but Chanel was a spark plug, for sure.”
Despite an overall losing record, the Eagles are still one of just three remaining unbeaten teams in AAA play and Wong feels they belong in the conversation with league standouts Galileo and Lowell.
“I know we’re right there with them,” Wong said. “Other people don’t know we’re there and that’s how I like it, but we can’t just celebrate on this one victory.”
Karah Butac – 13
Grace Lui – 13
Kate Nakano – 10
Michelle Lee – 7
Laura Louie – 6
Chanel Malone – 23
Malaysia Basallo – 7
Esmeralda Cabrera – 7
Tatiana Jimenez – 2
Two players tied with 1 point