By Walsh CARVALHO
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is a small school of about 400 students nestled in the hills near La Cañada Flintridge. The school boasts academic excellence and competes athletically in one of the toughest leagues in the San Gabriel Valley, the Mission league.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy varsity basketball program is a work in progress; with second year coach Gino Pacella at the wheel, his mission is to build a solid basketball program at FSHA.
“My approach to coaching is very simple,” Pacella said recently. “Growing up in western Pennsylvania it is drilled into all athletes at a very young age that you show up to practice hard every day and that will translate into good things in game time situations.”
The Tologs went 9-17-0 last season, 3-7-0 in league and made it to the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IVA playoffs. Already Pacella is seeing results of extra practice time invested by the team. “The girls have put in some extra work to get ready, it has paid off as we are 8-8 heading into Mission (league play) this week,” he said.
Here are the scores and some highlights from the recent La Cañada Tournament:
-12/26 FSHA vs. Serra: final score FSHA-19 Serra-64.
Olivia Warner contributed eight points and Stephanie Ramsden contributed four points.
-12/28 FSHA vs. Village Christian: final score FSHA-63 VC-26.
Olivia Warner contributed 18 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and 5 steals; Lana Haddad added 15 points and 9 rebounds
-12/30 FSHA vs. La Salle: final score FSHA-46 La Salle-44 in overtime.
Ivy Fitzgerald scored the winning basket with 14 seconds left in overtime. Olivia Warner had 15 points and 11 rebounds
-12/31 FSHA vs. Flintridge Prep: final score FSHA-36 Flintridge Prep-50.
Lana Haddad scored nine points, Olivia Warner matched her with nine and Ivy Fitzgerald helped put eight on the board.
Junior point guard Vanessa Romero was leading the team in scoring, averaging 13.6 points and over two steals a game. She had season highs in the preseason opener against Sacred Heart Of Jesus with 24 points, and 23 in the Pasadena Poly tournament against host Poly with 23 points. Unfortunately she suffered an injury to her meniscus during the Pasadena Poly Tournament and will most likely be out for the season. Romero earned second team All League honors last season. Natalie Johnson also suffered a season ending injury and will be sidelined this year.
Even though Romero will not be able to be on the court due to the necessity of surgery, she still feels that she can be a help to her team. “This injury definitely has impacted me quite a bit, but we’re a strong team and I think this doesn’t interfere a whole lot on our wins and loses,” said Romero about the injury. “As far as helping my team, I think my role has not changed that much. Sure I’m not going to be an active participant, but I am still going to do my job and talk to the girls off the court for instruction, to get them pumped up, and support them all the way!”
Though disappointed by the set back, she’s optimistic about moving ahead. “I’m looking forward to getting better and moving past this, to continue playing and practicing for next season,” added Romero.
There have been a few team members that have started to shine: In addition to strong performances by junior Olivia Warner, Lana Haddad, a sophomore who stands six feet tall, has also been having a good start to the season, averaging over eight rebounds, scoring just under eight points and pick-pocketing a steal per game. Stephanie Ramsden has averaged just under eight points a game, with just over two rebounds and steals per game. Freshman Dana Budzyn is another driving force, averaging over three steals a game.
“We are very young and need leadership from everyone at this point,” noted Coach Pacella on what’s needed to have successful season. “I believe that we have (some) girls in the program that could play in college at lower levels.”
The Tologs will be rolling into the conference play this Friday, Jan. 8 when they will host Alemany High School of Mission Hills (10-4-0).
The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. at home.