Winners on the day at The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach are Brea Olinda of Brea and Cajon of San Bernardino. Winners at Colony High in Ontario are Lakeside of Lake Elsinore, Antelope Valley of Lancaster and Village Christian of Sun Valley. Recaps by Ronnie Flores & Mark Tennis.
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Brea Olinda (Brea) 64,
Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 55
It was a matchup of the old guard vs. the New Kid On The Block, with a trip to the state final versus St. Francis (Sacramento) on the line. In the end, the old guard pulled through and Brea Olinda will be gunning for its 10th overall state title next week.
Brea Olinda (28-4, No. 14 overall in the state) took a 28-18 lead, but Vista Murrieta, in its quest for a first ever appearance in a CIF state final, kept battling back. The Broncos got within a possession on various occasions in the fourth period, but every time Vista Murrieta (30-5, No. 15 in the state) was on the verge of tying it, the Ladycats had an answer.
The play of senior guard Reili Richardson and Brea Olinda’s free throw shooting was the main difference. Richardson controlled tempo and scored a game-high 27 points. She grabbed six rebounds and dished off five assists while making 17-of-17 free throws. As a team, the Ladycats made 22-of-26 free throws. The Broncos made 17-of-19, but seemed to be behind the eight ball as leading players Brittney Reed and Keilanei Cooper battled foul trouble.
Brea Olinda¹s fairly young club was also motivated to make a return trip to state for Richardson after the Ladycats lost 55-40 to Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) in last year’s CIF Division III final.
“It was a bit of an ugly, classic arena game, but when you have a special player like Reili, it makes the game easier,” said Brea Olinda coach Jeff Sink, who will be gunning for a record-tying seventh state title with the program next week vs. St. Francis. “You wonder if the stage is too big or too stressful, but blissful ignorance may have helped us because our younger girls don’t have that knowledge.”
Sophomore guard Jasmine Rachal added 14 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore forward Tyiona Watkins added 12 points and eight rebounds for Brea Olinda.
Reed led Vista Murrieta with 22 points before fouling out. Cooper added 14 points and eight rebounds for a team that never got closer than 44-43 on a Reed free throw with 5:50 remaining in the game, as the Ladycats pulled away down the stretch.
Despite not getting over the hump, Broncos coach Kurt Ruth was proud of his team and its run through the regional.
“It’s been a historic ride…we set a school record for wins in a season and got further than any team in school history,” Ruth said. “We felt confident we would be playing for a state title. Are we disappointed? Yes, but it’s more about the journey and it was special.”
Cajon (San Bernardino) 51,
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 30
After losing its first two games in the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs, Cajon just wouldn’t be denied in its quest for its first CIF state finals appearance, dominating from beginning to end in a game that was never in doubt.
Cajon (26-6) led 20-5 after one quarter of play, as its defense held Mater Dei (27-5) to 4-of-21 shooting in the first half. The Cowgirls had a 28-11 lead at intermission and built their lead to as large as 24 points (48-24).
“I’m really proud of our girls…they did a great job of executing the game plan,” said Cajon coach Mark Lehman. “No team I’ve had has ever executed a game plan better. We had no letdowns today. Our game plan was to not let them get the ball inside.”
Senior Kayla Washington led Cajon with 20 points and 12 rebounds and did a good job defensively on Mater Dei¹s interior players. The key to the win, however, was Cajon’s superior backcourt quickness, as the Cowgirls consistently beat Mater Dei up the court for easy buckets, or blew by defenders in the half court.
Cajon guard Tyla Turner, who is bound for Long Beach State, felt comfortable on her future home court, nailing three 3-pointers and finishing with 12 points and four assists. Her twin sister, Tyra, added eight points.
No player hit in double figures for Mater Dei, which shot 27 percent (12-of-44) from the field and was led by sophomore Emma Torbert with seven points.
Lakeside (Lake Elsinore) 35,
Lutheran (Orange) 34
In a battle of Lancers, Lakeside’s Lancers proved for the second straight outing that beating them earlier in the season does not mean another win later on.
In this instance, Lakeside (29-5) avenged a 39-23 loss to Orange Lutheran’s Lancers in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A final by with a victory in the D3 SoCal final that gave the school its first trip to the CIF state finals.
Head coach Anthony Williams’ squad beat Norco in the regional semifinals 65-46, which reversed a loss to the Cougars in the team’s season opener. Two of the team’s other losses are to teams from Nevada (one of which is currently top five-ranked in the nation) and the other is by 20 points to Long Beach Poly.
Two players hit for double figures for Lakeside with Taelor Griffin scoring 15 points and Daniele Bryant getting 10.
Orange Lutheran (28-7) could only hit three field goals in the first half, but made it close down the stretch. Its only double-figure scorer was Triann Thompson with 12 points.
Antelope Valley (Lancaster) 66,
La Canada 51
The Antelopes (30-2) don’t care that they were able to play in D4 this season for the SoCal playoffs under the CIF’s new competitive equity based divisions. They’re going to the state finals for the first time in school history.
Leading player Tylen Price had a great day for Antelope Valley. She scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. The Antelopes also received a huge boost off the bench from Nijah Page with 10 points.
With Page and Morgan Bizzell both hitting 3-pointers to complement Price, Antelope Valley posted a sizzling 27-9 edge in the second quarter and stayed in front the rest of the way.
Zoe Williams and Amber Graves both shot well for La Canada and both scored 14 points, but the Spartans (28-6) didn’t have the depth of Antelope Valley.
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 58,
Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) 33
After avenging their loss to Flintridge Prep in the CIF Southern Section Division 5AA semifinals, the Crusaders have blown the door open to reach their first state final. They cruised past a Mission Prep squad in the regional final that only lost to Flintridge Prep in overtime in the section final.
Micaela Cacho-Negrete buried four 3-pointers and had 25 points and 11 rebounds for the winners, who improved to 26-8. Leslie Aguilar (11 points) and Mercy Odima (10 points, 13 rebounds) also had strong outings.
The Royals, who were outscored 14-2 in the first quarter, wrapped up a 24-10 campaign.