CIF Playoffs: Muir loses to Inglewood in final seconds, 48-45; Monrovia’s comeback falls short, 78-69


Foothill 78, Monrovia 69
Inglewood 48, Muir 45 (Scroll down for this game’s recap)

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

SANTA ANA – There was something eerily different about the Monrovia High School girls basketball team Saturday night.

Sure, there were some stretches when the Wildcats probably could have played better. But in between those 32 minutes, Monrovia also played long stretches where its sheer determination to fight was clearly evident.

And despite losing, 78-69, to Foothill in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division III-A playoffs, the Wildcats fought to the very end.

Trailing by 22 points with seven minutes left, Monrovia (18-7) mounted a comeback that was worthy enough to stop the home crowd from any early celebration.

Freshman standout Gina Henderson exploded for a game-high 38 points, and her 3-pointer with 1:40 left cut Foothill’s (28-1) lead down to nine, 74-65. The Wildcats got as close to within seven, 74-67, with 1:03 left, but the Knights showed why they earned the top-seed and now head to next week’s CIF championship game at the Honda Center.

Foothill continually exploited the lack of inside presence with easy give-and-go’s and numerous putbacks. USC-bound Christina Marinacci scored 33 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Knights. With 13.1 seconds left, Maryum Jenkins fouled Marinacci who had to come out with a bloody nose.

After the game, Jenkins walked over to Marinacci – still holding the bloody-soaked towel on her nose – to make sure she was OK and patted her on the back.

This was Monrovia’s first semifinals appearance in well over 20 years. The seniors on the team last made the quarterfinals three years ago.

Jenkins finished the night with eight points and teammate Jasmine Gordon had 13, though she sat for a long stretch after taking an elbow to the jaw. Vanessa Hernandez scored six and Ashley Quionez had four.

Monrovia coach Rafael Camacho, in his second season as the Wildcats’ coach, said he was proud of the way Monrovia fought until the final buzzer.

“We haven’t played a team like this,” he said. “They’re the No. 1 seed and they’ve only lost one game. The fact that we cut the lead to (seven points) and had a minimal chance to maybe get in there to tie it speaks volumes and that we have what it takes talent wise to play against one of the top programs in Southern California.”
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By Keith Lair
Staff Writer

PASADENA — The Muir High School girls basketball team was foiled, again.

For the third consecutive season, the Mustangs were ousted in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Saturday night in Division III-A, Inglewood did the honors at Pasadena High School. The Sentinels rallied from seven points down late in the game for a 48-45 victory. They will face Foothill later this week for the title. The Knights defeated Monrovia, 78-69.

Trailing almost the entire fourth quarter, the Ocean League champions tied the game at 45 with 13 seconds to play when point guard Hazel Ramirez drove the baseline. She was fouled by Paige Robinson while making a scoop layup and converted the free throw for a 46-45 lead.

“It was all heart,” Ramirez said of the three-point play. “I just
concentrated and focused. That was it.”

Inglewood went to a full-court press and the Mustangs appeared to have it beaten, but a pass intended for Brittany Henderson was intercepted because Henderson had her head turn and appeared to have not expected it.

Tayler Champion scored on a layup with 5 seconds to play. A desperation 3-point attempt by the Mustangs was nowhere near close to going in.

The Mustangs, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, have lost to San Clemente, Mira Costa and now Inglewood in the last three semifinals. Last season, the Mustangs were still awarded a State tournament berth despite not reaching the finals. They will have to wait another week to learn if they are chosen again.

“Turnovers by people I don’t expect to make turnovers and they did,” Muir coach Gary Johnson said. “Inglewood capitalized on them and made the free throws when they had to.

“We were up by seven. Turnover, turnover, turnover. We blew it.”

Inglewood, the tournament’s No. 2 seed despite a 16-15 record because of forfeits (the Sentinels are 25-3 on the court), led for almost all of the game’s first three quarters. Muir led, 3-2, and not again until Robinson hit a 12-footer from the baseline for a 31-30 lead late in the third quarter.

Ramirez, who had 12 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, tied the game to start the fourth with a pair of free throws. The Mustangs then went on a 7-0 run, sparked by Kentucky-bound Henderson, who had 10 of her 15 points in the second half. Her defender, Tayler Champion. picked up her fourth foul early in the quarter and
Cal-bound point guard Eliza Pierre kept feeding it into Henderson in
the isolated offense.

But then it was the Sentinels’ turn. Pierre picked up her fourth foul and had to switch with Robinson on guarding Ramirez. The guard hit her third 3-pointer of the game to close the lead to 43-40 and then made a three-point play on a baseline drive with 2:14 to play to tie the game.

Robinson put in a followup basket with 1:13 to play for a 45-43 Muir
lead and things got sloppy.

Ramirez missed a field-goal attempt and Muir turned the ball over on an inbounds pass, one of their six turnovers in the quarter and 23 in the game. Inglewood missed on two shots inside the lane and Henderson got her17th rebound with less than a minute to play.

Muir, content to run down the clock, tried to get the ball low to Henderson, but she had trouble handling it as it rolled out of bounds with 33 seconds to play.
(626) 962-8811, Ext. 4465

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