Bonita Magic: It was a perfect 27-0 entering the quarterfinals, but the Cajon High School girls basketball team had to come from behind in more of those victories than coach Mark Lehman preferred.
“Our girls thought they could do that tonight, but I told them one of these nights it’s not going to happen,” Lehman said. “The other team’s not going to let you come back.”
Bishop Amat 54, Westminster 50
Tuesday’s semifinal: Bishop Amat at Ventura, 7 p.m.
Bonita 60, Cajon 47
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Bishop Amat’s girls basketball team won its first two playoff games so easily — by an average of 53 points — you wondered what would happen when it went up against a team that could swing back, especially without one of its best players, junior Dagmar Ramirez, out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Visiting Westminster, riding a 13-game winning streak and 25-3 overall record, certainly provided that.
But top seed Amat isn’t chasing its sixth divisional crown and second straight title without knowing what to do when the game’s on the line, and it proved it again with clutch baskets and free throws in the fourth quarter to squeeze out a 54-50 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1A quarterfinals on Saturday.
Lancers junior Janae Chamois finished with 20 points, five assists and senior Mauriana Clayton dropped 14 points with 10 rebounds. But with the game on the line, junior Paulina Santana’s four consecutive free throws proved to be the difference.
Bishop Amat (22-8) will be on the road in Tuesday’s semifinals at fifth-seed Ventura, the Channel League champions.
The Lions trailed 48-39 with 2:51 left, but got a pair of free throws from Jenna Miramontez and 3-pointer from Trina Vargas to cut Amat’s lead to 48-44 with 1:57 left.
And it got closer.
The Lions’ Maggie Dumphy sank a 12-footer with 48 seconds left to trim Amat’s lead to 49-48.
After fouling Santana, the guard calmly sank two free throws, and after Westminster made two free throws of its own to cut the lead to one again, the Lions tested Santana again, fouling her and sending her back to the line.
Santana swished both, extending Amat’s lead to 53-50 with 24 seconds left.
Amat’s defense got a crucial stop, and after Chamois was fouled and made a free throw to extend the Lancers’ lead to four points with 13 seconds left, the Lancers got a final stop to close it out.
“They’re (Westminster) a great team and what a great high school game and great environment it was,” Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard said. “They (Westminster) couldn’t miss a foul shot and we stepped up and made the bulk of ours.
“We played great defense and I was afraid we couldn’t get enough stops, but we got the last two of the game. That was critical.”
With Westminster trying to rally down 36-29 entering the fourth quarter, several Lancers came up big.
Senior Leeah Powell continually attacked the glass, finishing with eight points and getting a big basket on a third effort to extend Amat’s lead to six points early in the fourth quarter.
Chamois was steady throughout and Clayton did a great job containing Westminster’s 6-foot Dumphy, who is going to Azusa Pacific and finished with 11 points.
Westminster was paced by Chyann Pendegrass and Miramontez, who finished with 12 points apiece.
“I think everybody played very well and you have to play well to win a game of this magnitude,” Wiard said. “Janae was terrific on defense, Leeah played her best game since coming back from (an ACL). Mauriana was terrific and Paulina didn’t get as many shots as we would like her to get, but she got the ones we needed and hit those (four) foul shots, that was clutch.”
And to continue winning without Ramirez, arguably the Lancers’ best all-around player, is no easy task this late in the playoffs.
“We pride ourselves on balance,” Wiard said. “We certainly miss Dagmar, she’s a great player and a great teammate, but the other kids are good too.”