PALMDALE — The Knight girls basketball team did everything well except shooting from behind the 3-point line on Thursday night.
The Hawks played aggressive team defense, which led to easy baskets, which led to a comfortable victory.
Knight held Eastside to single digit scoring in three quarters in a 56-23 Golden League victory at Knight High School.
Knight (7-3, 3-0) remained undefeated in league, keeping pace with Lancaster, which shared the league title with the Hawks last season. Eastside falls to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in league.
“We played much better than we played the last two games,” Knight coach Danny Henderson said. “We came and did our job. You need five kids on the court working to do their job.
“We had three good quarters of really low scores. You have to make them beat you from the outside before they can beat you from the inside.”
The Hawks scored on their first shot, by junior Taylor Porchia, and never trailed.
Knight jumped out to an 8-0 lead until Lancaster made their first basket, a 3-pointer by freshman Madeline Ortiz with 55 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Knight took a 10-3 lead into the second quarter, which played out much like the first.
The Hawks held the Lions without a field goal until there was less than a minute remaining in the first half after Knight had built a 26-3 lead.
“I feel really good,” Knight junior Keyna Hadley said of the win. “I feel we were fundamentally sound on defense. We just treat every quarter like its 0-0.
“I feel like today we played with chemistry.”
Hadley scored six points in the first half, but finished with a game-high 23 points.
Hadley scored 11 of her team’s 16 points in the third quarter, as the Lions equalled Knight with 16 points.
“We played awesome,” said Porchia, a third-year varsity player. “We were better than we were on Tuesday. Our defense was amazing.
“We look for who has the open shot to get an easy basket. We started off way better than our last game.”
Porchia finished with 15 points, but left early in the fourth quarter after falling to the court when she collided with an Eastside player. Porchia fell on her back and was icing her neck after the game.
“I feel good and a little sore,” Porchia said.
Porchia helped the Hawks control the boards and gave them a definitive size advantage in the point.
“We have Taylor in the middle,” Henderson said. “Our No. 1 option is going to her, until they double or triple team her. Some of the kids throw it in, no matter what.”
The Hawks made just one of 22 3-point shots.
“I wish we would have shot better from outside,” Henderson said. “If we shot better, we could have won by 30, but we can’t shoot.”
Knight held Eastside without a field goal in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lions 14-1.
Hadley scored another six points in the final quarter.
Knight senior Jada Mims finished with seven points and sophomore Alison Asp added four.
The Hawks have just three returning starters after graduating six seniors from last year’s team that advanced to the State semifinals.
“There are three girls on the team with experience and the rest have played like 10 varsity games,” Henderson said. “Three of those are sophomores who are in the rotation. They’re pretty young.
“It’s reading everyone’s strengths and weaknesses as a team.”
Ortiz and senior Sienna Rodriguez both finished with six points apiece for the Lions and Kayla Ward added five points.
“Going into the game, I knew it would be a hard one, just on the size,” Eastside coach Gerard Nelson said of the Hawks’ size advantage. “I believe unforced turnovers got us in the hole we were in.
“We were just out manned and outsized.”
The Lions have six seniors and one junior.
Eastside will host Littlerock on Tuesday, when Knight hosts Antelope Valley.
Henderson said the Golden League is extremely balanced and competitive, besides Lancaster, which shared the league title with Knight last season.
Lancaster beat Knight 46-23 in the championship game of the Lancaster Tournament on Nov. 17.
“I see Lancaster as the clear cut favorite,” Henderson said.
The two teams will not meet until Jan. 15, at Lancaster High.
“We would most definitely like to defend the league title and hopefully with a CIF championship and go to State again,” Hadley said.