The Brea-Olinda High School girls’ basketball team won its first State championship Saturday, holding off a third-quarter rally and running away from San Francisco Mercy, 70-46, at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
Brea opened a 16-point halftime lead, saw Mercy close to within nine in the third quarter, then powered to the Division III title.
Brea (31-2) finished the season unbeaten against California opponents. Its only losses came in the Christ the King tournament in New York City last December.
Mercy, which entered the game as the only unbeaten team in the tournament, finished 31-1.
When Mark Trakh, Brea coach, removed the last of his starters with 38 seconds left, they donned T-shirts that read: Brea-Olinda Ladycats 1989 State Champions.
When the buzzer sounded, the Wildcat players ran onto the court and embraced each other. Other than that, the victory seemed almost routine.
Only in the third quarter, when Mercy cut into Brea’s 28-12 halftime lead did the game have drama.
Mercy closed to within nine points at 37-28 with 1:42 left in the third quarter, but then Brea’s Aimee McDaniel took control.
McDaniel, a junior guard, made two consecutive pull-up jumpers. Then, after a basket by Mercy’s Jovonne Smith, McDaniel added a driving layup to increase Brea’s lead to 43-30.
“I don’t know if our kids thought it was over or what,” Trakh said. “I told our kids at halftime to watch out; that they would come back.”
McDaniel had 22 points, mostly from outside. Teammate Jinelle Williams, a 5-foot-8 center, had 23 points. Williams had little trouble against Angel Mahan, Mercy’s 6-2 center.
“I looked up at her a couple of times--she was intimidating,” Williams said. “But she didn’t do anything.”
Smith had 20 points and Mahan added eight for Mercy.
“We started to get the ball to our key players (Smith and Mahan) in the third quarter,” Mercy Coach John Kerwin said. “We tired out when we got it down to nine. We started to give up a lot of cheap stuff after that.”
After a disastrous first half, however, it was too much to ask the Skippers to make up the deficit.
Mercy made only five of 24 shots from the field (20.8%) in scoring a season-low 12 first-half points. The Skippers could not keep up with Brea.
“Twelve points at halftime is unheard of for us,” said Kerwin, whose team was averaging 60 points a game.
Mercy got it going in the third quarter, but this was Brea’s game, just as so many others have this season.