La Jolla Country Day’s Te-Hina Paopao is given McDonald’s jersey by All-American Kelsey Plum
By STEVE BRAND
It was Senior Night at La Jolla Country Day on Friday, and it was also Te-Hina Paopao Night.
Before the Torreys, ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and others, handed Bishop’s an 81-45 girls basketball setback, Paopao got the jersey she will wear in this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game on April 1 in Houston. She received it from former Torreys All-American Kelsey Plum.
“What a blessing, especially getting it from Kelsey,” said Paopao, the Oregon signee who isn’t just being mentioned for State Player of the Year but nationally as well. “I met her when I was about 10 years old and I looked up to her.
“It didn’t affect my game — well, maybe a little.”
In the first half, Paopao, who had a 22.3 average, scored two points. She finished with 23, burying four 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter before exiting.
“In that first half I was just trying to get the team moving,” said Paopao. “This is such a great team. We all share the ball.”
In Paopao’s scoring absence before halftime, freshman Breya Cunningham tossed in 12 points while pulling down 14 rebounds. Bobi Mack and Pua Tufaga each added eight and LJCD was up 43-20.
Once the 5-foot-10 Paopao warmed up in the second half, and with the help of Jazzy Anousinh catching fire, the lead ballooned to 78-38 before coach Terri Bamford went deep into her bench.
Cunningham finished with 16 points and 22 rebounds, Anousinh scored 13 and Mack 11. LJCD also dominated on the boards, 39-22.
It was the ninth straight win for LJCD, which improved to 25-1 with one game remaining before the playoffs.
As for Marlon Wells’ young Bishop’s team — three sophomores, a freshman and a junior start — the No. 6 Knights simply were no match for the Torreys inside despite having ninth-grader Aaliyah Stanton lead the team with 16 points, including four long-range bombs.
Sophomore Renee Chong added 13 points, 11 in the first half, but the Knights never recovered from a 12-0 deficit.
Brand is a freelance writer.