Neither illness nor injury could keep the Alemany High girls' basketball team out of the win column Thursday night.
With three starters suffering from the flu and another, Michelle Paul, filling a reserve role because of a combination of an injured back and strep throat, the Indians improved their San Fernando Valley League record to 8-0 with a convincing 62-47 victory at Bell-Jeff.
Paul led the attack with 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench while the Indians' other post player, Andrea Hoffman, chipped in with 14 points and 7 rebounds.
"Michelle sure didn't play like she was sick," a pleased Alemany Coach Melissa Melton said. "She's a strong kid and you've got to give her credit.
"She always gives me 110%."
That is, as long as she has been playing for Melton.
Paul is just a sophomore, recently promoted from Alemany's junior varsity.
And apparently the mere presence of Paul is a boost.
"Ever since Michelle came up, Hoffman's been dominating in the paint much more," Melton said.
Bell-Jeff stayed close for much of the first half and trailed only 25-19 with a minute left before intermission.
At that point, Alemany's Carol Schoenmann scored on a fast break and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but Paul grabbed the rebound and banked in a three-foot shot that gave Alemany a 29-19 halftime lead.
Bell-Jeff could not climb out of that 10-point hole, although Sarah Dancs (20 points) and Carlyn Couch (13) did their best to help.
But the Indians' inside game proved too strong, Paul and Hoffman repeatedly getting second and third shots on Alemany misses, and Bell-Jeff could get no closer than eight.
"The game was lost on the boards," Bell-Jeff Coach James Couch said. "They really hurt us on second shots."
Melton happily agreed.
"We definitely won the game on the inside," she said. "That's where you're gonna beat people."
With the win, Alemany moved to 18-3 overall.
Bell-Jeff dropped to 6-3 in league play and 14-9 overall.