Opening a 13-point lead in the second quarter and an eight-point margin in the third quarter, Sun Valley Village Christian looked in good shape Thursday morning at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento in its Division V state championship game against East Palo Alto Eastside College Prep.
But foul trouble to 6-foot-4 Mercy Odima proved decisive, and Village Christian was beaten, 57-50.
Odima, a junior transfer from Kenya, was magnificent. She scored 15 points and grabbed 19 rebounds. But her fourth foul with 6:17 left changed everything.
"It really took away the momentum for our team, because that was the game plan to throw it down low," Coach Jon Sampang said.
Village Christian (26-9) made it a long way after losing in the Southern Section Division 5AA final to Flintridge Prep. The Crusaders had just one senior on their roster. Leslie Aguilar scored 15 points and Micaela Cacho-Negrete added 12 points.
Eastside (20-11) received 16 points apiece from Alayah Bell and Zion Gabriel and 15 points from Kayla Tahaafe. Eastside went on an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to break away.