Birmingham takes down Chatsworth on the road
Albert Einstein once famously quoted, “Between the difficulties, one hides the opportunities.” The Birmingham Patriots found this out for themselves after coming up on the short end when facing Granada hills in their second game in West Valley play. While the team did not play poorly against the Highlanders at home, they did not take advantage of the opportunities that would have given them a win over the team they will have to go through to win the league. Last Friday provided another opportunity to get things back on the winning path, and this time they took advantage, handling league foe Chatsworth on the road 70-40.
Devyn Berry got out of the blocks quickly for Birmingham, scoring their first six points as the Patriots built an early lead. Chatsworth guard Madison Guerrero answered back late in the period with two baskets of her own to cut Birmingham’s lead down to two. After an exchange of baskets at the end of the period the Patriots took a slim 12-10 lead into the second quarter.
Birmingham got their offense going early in the second with a quick 8-2 run bookended by two three-point field goals by Berry and her backcourt mate Samantha Velasquez to push the Patriots’ advantage on the scoreboard to 20-12. After a basket by Chatsworth basket broke up the run, the Birmingham defense kicked into overdrive via the full-court press. The Patriots were able to force turnovers that lead to easy fast-break baskets. In a blink, Birmingham’s lead ballooned to 17 after an 11-0 run. The Chancellors responded with a quick 6-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to 11. A late Guerrero three-pointer cut the lead to 10 at one point late in the period, but by the time the halftime horn sounded, the Patriots had taken a comfortable lead into the break.
One of the signature traits of head coach Kaio Lewis and the Chatsworth Chancellor program is a willingness to work and continue to fight, even when odds are against them. Chatsworth demonstrated this straight away at the beginning of the third quarter when Guerrero and freshman guard Vickie Menjivar bolstered the Chancellors’ offense and helped cut the deficit down to 8 points. Birmingham responded to Chatsworth’s run by deploying the full-court press that had been successful in the first half to put the game out of reach for good. By the end of the third quarter, the Birmingham lead had expanded to 60-33 on the strength of a 21-2 run. Berry was spectacular in the third quarter for the Patriots, pouring in 15 of her game-high 30 points. She also came up huge on the defensive end, playing her role as the centerpiece of the press, using her phenomenal wingspan to disrupt Chatsworth’s attempts to move the ball up the floor and initiate the offense. “Devyn was huge for us tonight,” said Birmingham head coach Victor Koopongsakorn said after the game of his junior guard’s performance. “When she can dominate the game on both ends that way, we are hard to beat.
Berry also had help in the win from junior guard Natalie Lopez, who put together another strong performance this season. Lopez led the team with seven assists and eight steals to go along with the nine points she contributed. Guerrero and Menjivar were stellar in defeat for Chatsworth. Guerrero led the team in scoring with 14 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot. Menjivar continues to show that the future is in good hands for the Chancellors, as the freshman stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks and an assist.
Birmingham will have a few days to rest before their next league game on Wednesday, January 18th at home against El Camino Real. Chatsworth will take a quick detour from West Valley play when they host Eastside on Monday at 5 pm as part of the MLK Showcase at Chatsworth Charter High School.