Friday, March 1, 2024

North Torrance girls basketball advances to Division 1 quarterfinals with win over Leuzinger

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TORRANCE Bailey Enomoto has basketball in her life again.

Enomoto, a senior on the North Torrance girls basketball team, has missed the majority of two seasons with ACL injuries, one on her right knee and one on her left.

She started her final season late as she recovered from the latest and still wears the knee brace, but her performance Saturday night, proved that all of the work was worth it.

Enomoto scored 19 points and battled against Leuzinger’s Dresha Moore all night, as the Saxons led wire-to-wire for a 76-62 win in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 second round.

North will host Santiago/Corona in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.

“I have two ACL tears, I tore my right going into sophomore year and I tore my left midway through junior year,” she said. “I got cleared at the end of 2023 …just trying to work to get all of the muscles back, get back in shape.

“I had basketball taken away two years and I thought I would play all four years. It was  a big struggle, not being able to play and be out there with my team. Now, having the chance to be out there, having this be my last time being out there, it makes it a lot more special than maybe some other seniors.”

The first time that North faced Leuzinger (Nov. 25), Enomoto was still rehabbing the latest ACL injury. Going into this meeting, North felt it already had a new plan, with its center back on the court.

“We didn’t have Bailey or Leyna (Miyake) the first time, which are two of our four seniors,” North coach Lauren Kamiyama said. “That’s two of our top seven, so I think that makes a difference. They’re both on the taller side, so we were able to throw at times a taller lineup to help on 1 (Dresha Moore) and 3 (Madison Watts).”

The Saxons paid a lot of attention to the LMU-bound Watts. Wherever she moved, she seemed to have two defenders with her. Watts still finished with 28 points, but Moore was limited to six.

While Leuzinger struggled offensively, North was led Enomoto on the inside and the 3-point shooting of Keimi Santiago and Sage Misumi. Santiago hit five 3s on her way to a 19-point night and Misumi had three as she finished with 12 points.

“They had a good game plan,” Leuzinger coach Bo Corona said of North. “We had played them early in the year and I warned them that it was not going to be the same. You have to ready for a different look because you’re in the playoffs now. It’s a do or die situation.

“They got up on us early and they kept us down the whole game.”

Leuzinger made a run in the second quarter to get within five at 29-24, but North closed the second half on a 12-2 run to take a 41-26 lead into halftime.

In the second half, North’s lead grew to 20 early on a pair of baskets from Enomoto.

“She represents our program very well as far as fighting back, being resilient, toughness,” Kamiyama said of Enomoto. “We talk about being mentally tough, that’s Bailey.

“Her coming back has been key for us this year.”

Also in Division 1

REDONDO 66, PORTOLA 50: Ella and Abby Zimmerman recorded double-doubles in the second-round road win.

Ella Zimmerman had 26 points and 15 rebonds and Abby Zimmerman had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Kyla Hopton had 12 points.

Redondo will be on the road at Harvard-Westlake in the quarterfinals.

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