Colony wins thriller over Cajon

It might’ve been the best high school basketball game (girls or boys) I’ve seen all season when fourth-seeded Colony upset top-seeded Cajon 59-56 in the CIF State Division I Southern Regional girls basketball semifinal on Thursday. Colony plays Long Beach Poly for a spot in the state finals on Saturday.

It’s on par with the Ayala girls in the regional final last year, although that one had the added bit of it being a triple-overtime game.

So much happened, not everything made it into my story in Friday’s paper.

For instance, both teams dealt with foul trouble. Cajon’s Kori Walker had three fouls with more than three minutes to go in the first half. She picked up her fourth before the end of the third and fouled out in the game’s final minute. She was not much of a factor.

“Because of the foul trouble, I substituted more than I usually do,” Cajon coach Mark Lehman said. “We had some players in who didn’t do what they were told to do.”

Colony had foul trouble, too, as guard Rachel Taghaboni fouled out with 2:09 to play. But Taghaboni picked up four of her fouls in the second half and she wasn’t really on the bench because of foul trouble. It only hurt Colony after she fouled out.

Cajon led 28-17 in the second quarter, but improved defensive pressure from Colony ended in a 10-2 run to end the half, cutting Colony’s deficit to 30-27. Colony took its first lead of the game 35-34 on two free throws by Camille Buckley (16 points, 14 rebounds) with 5:07 to play in the third. Buckley didn’t have her best game on the offensive end, making only five of 12 shots from the field, but worked hard on grabbing boards. Jazmyne White also scored 16 points.

Cajon led a couple of times after that,  the last time when a basket by Layshia Clarendon (29 points, 8 rebounds) gave the Cowgirls a 49-46 lead with 4:08 to play. Colony scored the next five points, taking the lead for good at 51-49 on a Te’onna Campbell basket with 2:38 remaining.

Clarendon was 6-of-11 from the line in the fourth quarter, which interestingly enough was the first time she had gotten to the line in the game. In fact she was 4-of-9 from the line in the final 2:32, missing two free throws that would’ve given the Cowgirls the lead with 11.8 seconds to play.

As usual, there was a lot on the shoulders of seniors Clarendon and Darshae Burnside. Usually, that’s not a problem. This time, against an excellent Colony team, it was too much.

Clarendon and Burnside scored 50 of Cajon’s 56 points, while five players scored at least seven points for Colony, making up 56 of their 59 points.

“I have to give (assistant coach) Vince (Spirlin) a lot of credit,” Colony coach Ed Taylor said. “He had seen them (Cajon) more, and he had a good game plan.”