SOUTHERN SECTION BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Brea-Olinda Takes Suspense Out of Winning : Division III-AA girls: Ladycats easily get their sixth consecutive section title with a 70-40 victory over Newport Harbor.
This was a forgone conclusion.
Back in November, when basketball practices officially began, everyone knew Brea-Olinda would win its sixth consecutive Southern Section title. The Ladycats were, after all, the three-time defending State champions and they had everyone back from last season’s team.
The only mystery about this season’s title was the victim and the margin of victory.
The Ladycats--ranked second in the nation--lived up to expectations with a 70-40 victory over Newport Harbor Saturday at Cal Poly Pomona.
The crowd of 2,000 saw a game in which Nicole Erickson--the Southern Section Division II player of the year last season--was the weak link from the field, and still it wasn’t close.
Erickson shot an uncharacteristic four of 18 from the floor, but she found the open teammate, got eight rebounds, made Newport Harbor playmaker Gina Heads a non-factor, in addition to making things happen in other ways--especially for her teammates:
--Sarah Beckley was eight of 13, and finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
--Colleen Hudson was seven of seven, and finished with 15 points.
--Lee Moulin was four of eight, including two of three from the three-point arc. She had 11 points.
And Erickson? Even in a slump, she scored 15 for the Ladycats (29-0).
“That says a lot about her,” said first-year Brea Coach John Hattrup, who won two previous section titles at Mission Viejo. “A lot of other players would go in the tank. I see her with eight rebounds and five assists and contributing in other ways.”
The game was won in the first quarter, when Brea took a 17-2 lead. Eight of the Ladycats’ first 12 points came off offensive rebounds: Beckley’s put-back made it 2-0; Moulin’s made it 4-0; Hudson’s made it 9-2; Beckley’s made it 12-2.
Amid that, Erickson hit a three-pointer. At the end of it, Hudson scored inside and Moulin made a 20-footer for a 17-2 lead.
“I knew if we continued to play well, we could score a lot of points,” said Erickson of the first-quarter score.
Newport Harbor (22-7) was one of 12 from the field in the first quarter and was outrebounded, 15-7.
“They didn’t shoot a very good percentage (29.5%),” Hattrup said, “but I would like to think we had something to do with that.”
Brea’s defense and big-game experience had everything to do with it.
“Our kids have been here before and we know what these games are like,” Hattrup said. “If we have a good game plan and play hard, we know good things will happen.”
The game plan centered on containing Newport Harbor’s quickness outside, limiting their drives to the basket and holding the Sailors to one shot. Almost without exception, the Ladycats did that--Newport Harbor had only two offensive rebounds.
Newport Harbor made 13 of 44 shots, but was only six of 25 in the first half and trailed, 36-14. Beckley had 12 points at halftime.
The only Sailor who had any success was senior guard Genevieve Evarts, who scored a game-high 22 points. No one else made more than five, though each of the starters had averaged at least 7.9 points. Heads had five points. Dianne Pulido and Mandy Clayton had four.
“We came out very focused,” said Beckley, who had nine of her 12 rebounds at halftime. “We knew we had to win this game to go to State.”