Brea Olinda Coach Jeff Sink said earlier this week playing a game in his home gym was worth 10 points. Thursday night, the Ladycats needed every one of them.
Brea advanced to Saturday's Southern California Regional final with a 55-48 victory over Ocean View in a rematch of last Saturday's Southern Section Division II-A championship game.
The Ladycats (29-3) get a rematch in the Pond with Woodbridge, the team that ended Brea Olinda's run of four consecutive state championships in last year's regional final.
Like its victory in the section final, Brea Olinda got a big performance from an unheralded player. Stephanie Wettlin, a 5-foot-11 junior averaging 9.9 points, scored a career-high 18 and added seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots to hold off a spirited comeback by Ocean View (23-9).
"I've been touting Wettlin all season," Sink said. "Next to [Jennifer] Saari, she's our best athlete. But she's not shooting enough."
That was the same knock on Saari much of the year, but with Saari in street clothes because of a knee injury, Wettlin took enough shots to lead the Ladycats. She made seven of her first nine from the field, and finished nine for 15. She scored four points after Ocean View overcame a 30-18 halftime deficit and pulled within three, 43-40, with 3 minutes 20 seconds left.
"We had them on the run," Ocean View Coach Ollie Martin said. "If we make a couple of shots and hold them on defense, we'd be right there."
But instead, they were at Brea, where the rims are kind to the Ladycats. Brea shot 52% (25 for 48) from the field after shooting 67% over the final three quarters of Tuesday's first-round victory over Riverside North. Ocean View shot 27% (17 for 64).
Wettlin hit a four-foot turnaround jumper with a defender in her face, Marissa Bradley (11 points) scored a layup after a rebound and assist by freshman Lindsey Davidson, and Wettlin answered Andrea Tuiolosega's putback with a 15-footer for a 49-42 lead with 1:19 left. It was one of only two shots Brea Olinda made from beyond 15 feet.
"We concentrated our defense on Bradley, who can dominate a game," Martin said, "and Wettlin was basically unstoppable."
Said Bradley: "Me and Rochelle [Anthony, who had 13 points] had trouble getting the ball and Wettlin stepped it up tonight."
Despite the size disadvantage, Wettlin also did a nice job defending 6-1 sophomore center Anna Lembke (five points, 12 rebounds), who was one for eight from the field. Ocean View's Becky Fraser, averaging 15.4 points and 8.5 rebounds, managed only six points and three rebounds before fouling out with 5:12 left in the game.
Jennifer Tuiolosega led Ocean View with 18 points.