By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
ANAHEIM – It appeared to be within reach for the Rio Hondo Prep girls basketball team. The Kares took a four- point lead at the half, but then came the third quarter. That’s when it all came apart.
Top seed Mesa Grande Academy switched to a matchup zone defense in the third quarter to cause confusion, and it worked, limiting Rio Hondo Prep to three points and helping the Cardinals oust the Kares 48-44 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6AA final Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Mesa Grande Academy (26-2) opened the third with a 6-0 run to retake the lead 22-20 before extending it to 26-21 on a Jennifer Dupper steal and layup with 4:59 left in the quarter.
Rio Hondo Prep (21-6) didn’t score in the third until Jayleen Wong converted 1 of 2 free throws, and the second- seeded Kares scored their lone field goal of the quarter on a Kayley Martin 8-foot jumper with 27.9 seconds left. Rio Hondo Prep, which led 20-16 at halftime, went on to miss five free throws and committed 17 turnovers in its first finals appearance since winning the small-schools division in 1990.
CLICK ON THREAD TO CONTINUE READING
“I thought we came out in the third quarter and left our shooters alone,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Joe Parker said. “We fell apart on that.
“Overall, I thought our defense was pretty good. it wasn’t our defensive effort that cost us the game. Offensively we got a little bit out of rhythm.”
Martin scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting. No other player, though, scored in double figures. Charley Parker was limited to nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.
“I thought (Jaci Shankel) did an excellent job (guarding) Charley,” Parker said. “They took that away.”
Martin buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 44-42 with 33.2 seconds left, and Hannah Martin was fouled with 8.3 seconds left and converted both free throws to make it 46-44.
Mesa Grande Academy’s Michaela Garcia was put at the line with 5.7 seconds left. She missed the one-and-one, but fellow senior Rachel Tohm grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 4.3 seconds remaining. Tohm hit both free throws to put the game away.
AT THE ARENA, ANAHEIM CONVENTION CENTER
No. 1 Mesa Grande 48
No. 2 Rio Hondo Prep 44.
Rio Hondo Prep 8 12 3 21 — 44
Mesa Grande Academy 10 6 13 19 — 48
Rio Hondo Prep: Kayley Martin 15, Charley Parker 9, Hannah Martin 8, Jayleen Wong 6, Karah Kirby 6.
Mesa Grande Academy: Jennifer Dupper 16, Rachel Tohm 14, Michaela Garcia 11, Jaci Shanker 6, Amanda Darkens 1.
Records: Rio Hondo Prep 21-6; Mesa Grande Academy 26-2.