By Miguel A. Melendez
MONROVIA — It didn’t matter that the visiting St. Mary’s Academy girls basketball team went on a 16-1 run to end the first quarter.
And it certainly didn’t matter that Monrovia’s Jasmine Gordon and Maryum Jenkins got off to slow starts, which led to early frustration.
When it appeared the fifth-seeded Wildcats were headed toward the brink of disaster, Vanessa Hernandez kept the waters calm by reminding her teammates they hadn’t come this far to just throw away the season.
Monrovia overcame a sloppy first half and went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take the lead en route to a 51-49 victory over St. Mary’s on Wednesday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division III-A playoffs.
Monrovia (18-6) will play the Foothill-Sonora winner in the semifinals on Saturday at a site to be determined.
This was a physical game the Wildcats eventually won because of the will and determination of Hernandez and senior teammate Ashley Quionez, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Hernandez scored only seven points but it’s what doesn’t appear in the boxscore that helped the Wildcats prevail.
“I told them we had not come this far to just lose,” she said. “I kept saying ‘heart’ and reminded them about the time (St. Mary’s) beat us earlier in the season.”
The Belles (22-9) pounded Monrovia 69-43 on Dec. 30 in the Ayala Tournament.
But fortunately for the Wildcats, Gordon found her touch in the second half to finish with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jenkins scored nine points, had five rebounds and three steals.
“I have four seniors,” Monrovia coach Rafael Camacho said. “The opportunity was there and they (seized) the moment.”
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GIRLS BASKETBALL RESULTS
Monrovia 51, St. Mary’s Academy 49
Muir 38, Bellflower 21: Brittany Henderson scored 12 points and Daysha Thomas had 10 to lead the Mustangs in the Division III-A playoffs. Muir (22-3) will play Inglewood in Saturday’s semifinals at Pasadena High at 7:30 p.m. Eliza Pierre scored seven points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had eight assists and seven steals.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 47, La Caada 38: The high-low offense is perfect for the La Caada High School girls basketball team. The Spartans have the post players and small, quick guards for backdoor layups to run the offense effectively. But there’s always a caveat. In Wednesday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division IV-AA quarterfinal game against visiting Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, that caveat was Kody Burke. The 6-foot-1 center altered shots, got numerous blocked shots, had 22 rebounds and numerous put-back baskets to lead the third-seeded Knights to a 47-38 victory. “It is hard to stop her,” La Caada 6-foot forward Courtney McCutchan said. “Because you have a big girl in the middle, it’s pretty intimidating going down there. We didn’t get many post moves.” Burke was a one-girl wrecking crew inside. She had a game-high 26 points, most coming off her nine offensive rebounds. She scored 10 of Notre Dame’s 11 points in the second quarter. If she wasn’t putting back baskets, the Knights, 24-6, were feeding the junior for 3-footers.
Flintridge Prep at St. Joseph’s/Santa Maria
La Salle at Sierra
Santa Clara at Pasadena Poly
Sierra Canyon 43, Rio Hondo Prep 28
BOYS SOCCER RESULTS
St. Francis 1, Newbury Park 0: It’s all about timing. Amir Moore was sent into Wednesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division I second-round boys soccer playoff game with six minutes to play. Two minutes later, St. Francis High School sophomore Jake LaPorte lined up the Golden Knights’ only corner kick of the half against visiting Newbury Park. The kick went to the opposite side of the goal and Kim Chuchi headed it onto the ground in the middle of the goalie area. Moore, facing away from the goal to get the ball, turned and sent a hard shot into the net to give St. Francis a 1-0 victory and a berth in Friday’s quarterfinals. The Knights will play either Woodbridge or Long Beach Jordan.
Monrovia 2, Desert Mirage 0: Call him The Spoiler. Certainly the mood was somber when the visiting Desert Mirage High School boys soccer team traveled 126 miles back to Thermal, courtesy of Monrovia senior midfielder Turner Ward. Ward was at the right place at the right time Wednesday when he scored off a header in the first half and assisted on another to lead Monrovia to a 2-0 victory over the Rams in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division V playoffs. Perhaps it was second-round jitters, but the Wildcats (21-2-3) looked vulnerable early in the first half. Desert Mirage (10-5-3) pressed early and often, but it didn’t take long for Monrovia to start playing its usual game. Whether it was precise passing or anticipation, the Wildcats took control and found open gaps that helped create numerous scoring opportunities. It didn’t take long before Monrovia capitalized on a set piece. Off a corner kick in the 14th minute, Ward’s header found the back of the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
La Caada 1, Sultana 1 (La Caada advances on PK’s, 4-3): This score courtesy of my new buddy, LCFooty.
Viewpoint at Pasadena Poly
Rosemead at Milken Community
GIRLS WATER POLO
La Caada vs. Arroyo Grande, at Cuesta College, 3:15
CLICK ON THREAD FOR MUIR-BELLFLOWER BASKETBALL GAME BREAKDOWN
Now, the fun begins.
After sitting out first-round action because of a bye and routing Irvine at home in the second round, the Muir High School girls basketball team hits the road for tonight’s quarterfinal game against Bellflower in the CIF-Southern Section Division III-A playoffs.
Contrary to popular belief, Muir (21-3) likes playing on the road, where the crowd intensifies and the Mustangs thrive on defying their opponents’ expectation of celebrating at home with a win.
The Mustangs, 7-0 on the road and 6-3 at neutral sites, have played well of late, limiting their past two opponents to under 23 points.
“We’re playing pretty good right now,” Muir coach Gary Johnson said. “We’re doing what we’re supposed to do, holding everybody down to low scoring. The play of Eliza (Pierre) and Brittany (Henderson) really allows us to go up to a different level.”
Pierre, recently selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game before heading to Cal next season, is almost averaging a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. She also averages three blocks and six steals.
Despite the all-star statistics, Pierre finds little difficulty consistently posting those numbers. She seldom sees double-teams or 3-2 zones designed to slow the highly-touted guard.
“(Opponents) are more concerned about (Taylor) Gomez and Brittany than Eliza,” said Johnson, whose Mustangs are on a 17-game winning streak. “Eliza is not a high scorer so you don’t put your top player on her. But (Eliza) is fast and strong and if anything they try to play zone on her, but she gets through that.”
Gomez averages 11 points and Henderson, headed to Kentucky next season, averages 14.
Against Bellflower, which owns a 14-game winning streak, the Mustangs will face a smaller lineup that is very athletic and lives by outside shooting.
According to Johnson, the Mustangs need to limit those outside shots in order to come away with a victory.
If the Mustangs’ defense does its job, it’s likely the home crowd noise won’t have any effect.
“We like playing on the road,” Johnson said. “We love playing on the road because we love the challenge of making people say, ‘Wow, they’re really good,’” Johnson said. “We show them what kind of defense and what kind of ball we play.”
Muir boasts an athletic lineup that is difficult to defend while playing man-to-man, so the Mustangs will likely see a lot of zone defense tonight.
“We’ll have to find a way to get the ball inside to Gomez and Henderson,” Johnson said.
The Mustangs lost to Mira Costa in the semifinals last season and lost by one point in the semifinals of the Southern California Regionals against Magnolia at the Sports Arena.