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Middlebrooke Scores 25 in Orange Coast Victory

Freshman Sarah Middlebrooke began this season hoping to find a spot in Orange Coast’s talented starting lineup. Now, thanks to two season-ending injuries to starters, Middlebrooke is the Pirates’ dominant inside player.

She scored a career-high 25 points Saturday and also got 12 rebounds as host OCC defeated Los Angeles Trade Tech, 87-47.

OCC, seeded 10th, was ahead by as many as 21 in the first half but the lead was narrowed to 10 a minute into the second half.

But OCC then went on a 28-6 run over the next nine minutes and advanced to play at No. 7 Santa Barbara (21-6) Wednesday.

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OCC beat Santa Barbara in early December. But the Pirates are a much different team. Gone are center Natalie Weeks and forward Ani Saraydarian, both because of knee injuries.

“We’re playing without two really, really good players,” OCC Coach Mike Thornton said.

Orange Coast was ranked as high as second in Southern California before the injuries, but struggled to a third-place finish in the Orange Empire Conference. However, the Pirates have adjusted to the new lineup and gained a great deal of confidence by beating Irvine Valley in the final conference game a week ago. The loss ended the Lasers’ 17-game winning streak.

“That was a big win for us confidence-wise,” Thornton said. “I knew we could beat really good teams but now [the players] know it too.”

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