South Pasadena Coach Rick Kitagawa felt good about how his team kept Chen in check, as well.
“That was our thing, we wanted to stop Courtney,” Kitagawa said. “We knew if we stopped her we had a chance. We did OK in the first half, but in the second half a lot of our injuries and illnesses caught up with us.”
The Spartans (15-10, 7-2 in league) had five players — Chen (seven rebounds), Mary Peck (10 points), Lauren Barsamian (nine points, 10 rebounds, three steals), Sydney Zarate (eight points, eight rebounds), Keilee Bessho (seven points, three steals) — with at least seven points.
Zarate's buckets were the biggest, as she hit back-to-back jumpers (the second coming with 2:35 to go in the game) to give her team a 40-31 lead.
“I felt like it gave us a little motivation,” Zarate said. “We relaxed and had the lead and all we had to do was slow down, run our offense and play defense.”
The Spartans did just that as South Pasadena's Kelsey Nakamura, who had a game-high 11 points, tried to bring her team back when she fired a three-pointer on the next trip up the floor that went in and out before being rebounded by Chen with 1:36 to go.
A Tigers foul seven seconds later put Peck at the line as she sealed the game with two free throws, putting the score at 42-31.
“What kept us in that was our defense,” said Hill, whose team forced five fourth-quarter turnovers. “We struggled to make shots in the first half, but played good defense and clamped down as much as we could. Defense led to offense on the other end of the court.”
The win creates a showdown for the Rio Hondo League title Thursday as La Cañada travels to Monrovia at 5:15 p.m.