Many teams have tried to stop Costa Mesa’s Olivia DiCamilli in the past two years, mostly without success. Wednesday night, it was La Canada’s turn to be baffled by the sophomore guard.
DiCamilli scored a game-high 26 points and had 16 rebounds as third-seeded Costa Mesa (20-8) hammered second-seeded La Canada, 59-42, in a Southern Section Division III-A semifinal game at Pasadena Poly High School.
The victory moves the Mustangs into the championship game against St. Bernard on Saturday at Cal Poly Pomona.
It will be the second consecutive trip to the Division III-A final for Costa Mesa, which beat Rancho Alamitos, 51-49, in last year’s final.
But if the Mustangs play as they did in disposing of the Rio Hondo League champions Wednesday, they could be headed home Saturday with this year’s title.
After a poor-shooting first quarter, during which they made three of 11 field-goal attempts and fell behind, 11-9, the Mustangs--and DiCamilli in particular--charged back in the second period and never trailed again.
DiCamilli led the comeback with nine points in the quarter, including six in a row during a 12-0 Mustang run early in the period. La Canada failed to score in more than four minutes during the Costa Mesa blitz.
“That’s Olivia,” Costa Mesa Coach Jim Weeks said. “We don’t really look for her. We know that eventually she’s going to score because nobody can really guard her.”
The teams played even in the third period as forward Melissa Lord (21 points), who averages 17.5 points and 11.4 rebounds, scored seven of La Canada’s 13 points. But unfortunately for the Lady Spartans, DiCamilli wasn’t about to let up and hit for 10 of Costa Mesa’s 14 points.
Whatever hopes La Canada had of getting back into the game disappeared quickly in the fourth quarter. Costa Mesa went on another 12-0 run to take a 55-34 lead with 4 minutes 29 seconds remaining.
Senior guard Rachel Thomas, who finished with 16 points, provided the punch for Costa Mesa in the quarter with six points. Thomas also had an excellent defensive game, forcing many of La Canada’s 24 turnovers.
“Rachel Thomas didn’t play very well last Saturday (against Yucca Valley), but she made up for it tonight,” Weeks said.
La Canada, which entered the game with a school-record 15-game winning streak, was in foul trouble throughout much of the game and gave Costa Mesa 25 free-throw attempts. The Mustangs converted 15 of them.