THE PREPS : St. Bernard Buzzer Shot Sinks Costa Mesa : Division III-A Girls: Defending champions are stopped short this time, 73-71.
Remember the name Joi Turner. The Costa Mesa girls’ basketball team won’t soon forget her.
Turner, a 5-foot-4 sophomore guard, hit an 18-foot shot at the buzzer to give Playa del Rey St. Bernard a 73-71 victory over the Mustangs in the Southern Section Division III-A final Saturday at Cal Poly Pomona.
The jumper gave the Vikings (25-6), who advanced to the title game from the qualifying round, their first section championship in the school’s 30-year history and an automatic berth in this week’s Southern California Regionals.
It also prevented Costa Mesa (20-9) from winning its second consecutive division title. The Mustangs will find out today if they receive an invitation to the regionals as an at-large team.
Turner, who finished with 23 points and six steals, scored the winning basket after forward Meredith Hardy intercepted a Costa Mesa pass under the Mustang basket with six seconds remaining. She fed the ball to forward Shemeka McArthur, who found Turner streaking down the left side.
“I actually had a dream last night about making the last shot,” Turner said.
A final shot is what Costa Mesa was working for when Hardy picked off Heather Robinson’s pass intended for forward Rachel Ward.
“I was just trying to get down to 10 seconds (to play) and run our offense. I really didn’t care who shot it as long as it was a good shot,” Costa Mesa Coach Jim Weeks said.
Perhaps the Mustangs should have never been in that position to begin with.
They led, 69-64, with 2 minutes 33 seconds left and seemed to have things in control. But Costa Mesa’s top scorer, sophomore guard Olivia DiCamilli (23 points), fouled out with 1:30 remaining and starting guard Rachel Thomas followed her to the bench 30 seconds later.
The disqualifications came in the middle of a six-point run by St. Bernard, which cut the Mustang margin to 71-70 with 1:08 to play. Sophomore guard Kelly Shimabukuro, who led all scorers with 26 points--12 of them on three-point shots--tied the game at 71 on the front end of a one-and-one with 1:03 left.
St. Bernard Coach Lori Pawinski thought the victory was a bit of redemption for her team.
“We proved to a lot of people that we should have been ranked (in the coaches’ poll) and we weren’t, and that we should have been seeded and we weren’t,” she said. “We were counted out before the playoffs even started.”
The Vikings didn’t have problems getting things rolling, jumping to a 15-12 edge after the first quarter. The winners led, 38-35, at halftime, but Costa Mesa fought back to a 53-53 tie entering the fourth quarter.
St. Bernard’s Pawinski had confidence in her team before the game’s start. “I had a tape of Costa Mesa that I watched for about five minutes and I said, ‘We can beat them,’ ” she said.