Special Rookie Leads Way for La Jolla Country Day

Though Te-Hina Paopao is a junior as she walks around the La Jolla Country Day campus, she’s really just a freshman.

Paopao only played in a handful of basketball games at the end of 2017 after suffering a torn ACL. Last year she never found the court when she again suffered an injury before the season even started.

Though it was not her best shooting night, scoring nine points, well below her season average of 14.4, Paopao made up for it Friday with 14 rebounds and seven assists as the host Torreys downed Coastal League rival Bishop’s, 46-41.

“The team wasn’t together, but the win is all I care about,” said the 5-10 Paopao.

“It feels so great to be back. The thing I missed the most was being on the court with the team. I’m back to 90 percent and the 10 percent I’m missing is my speed.

“I know I had a rough night shooting (4 of 10), especially in the first half, so I looked to get into the flow. I always get the ball to whoever is hot.”

That would be Paris Atchley and Maria Urbano-Sedlund.

Atchley led the Torreys with 14 points, scoring a pair of 3-point field goals, before fouling out late in the game.

Urbano-Sedlund scored 12 points — all on long-range bombs — including a key trey to cap a 10-1 run midway through the third quarter that turned a one-point deficit into an eight-point lead with 1:10 to play.

In all, LJCD (14-9, 3-0) buried 8-of-24 3-pointers while holding the Knights (13-8, 1-1) to three by Angie Robles, a mercury-quick 5-4 freshman who finished with 19 points. Robles was one of the few Knights players able to slice effortlessly through the LJCD defense.

Without a player taller than 5-10, the Torreys were still able to hold 6-3 freshman Jada Davis-Mack to five points (she had 10 rebounds) and 6-foot senior Madison Chang to just a fourth-quarter field goal.

Though the Torreys are ranked just sixth in the section, they are San Diego’s top team in the MaxPreps rankings that will be used for playoff consideration and seeding.

Bishop’s, which is No. 3 in the section, is No. 7 according to MaxPreps.

Coach Terri Bamford said Paopao, even at 90 percent, is the key for the Torreys.

“Te-Hina is our playmaker, she’s so unselfish,” said Bamford.

“We’ll take it — it’s a great win.”

by Steve Brand