LA HABRA — When it came down to the final seconds of the CIF Southern Section Division II-A girls’ basketball quarterfinal, just one-point separated fourth-seed Burroughs and fifth-seed Whittier Christian.
In a defensive battle, the host Heralds had two chances to take the lead with 10 seconds remaining, but a big rebound and clutch free-throws from Indians junior Sydney Martin kept Burroughs in front.
Burroughs pulled through in the final moments for a 41-39 quarterfinal victory against Whittier Christian on Wednesday to advance to its first semifinal since 2016.
“We knew it was going to be a defensive battle,” Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan said. “They’re a good defensive team and we’re a good defensive team, so I knew it was going to be hard to score and that it was going to be low-scoring. We just made some plays in the fourth quarter.”
The Indians (27-4), the Pacific League runner-up, will travel to take on No. 1 San Clemente (26-3; South Coast League champion) in a division semifinal at 7 p.m. Saturday.
San Clemente earned a spot in the semifinals with a 79-67 win against Summit on Wednesday.
With a four-point lead with 4:39 to go, Burroughs junior Faith Boulanger pulled up from the perimeter and gave the Indians some breathing room for a 31-24 advantage.
The junior scored again with 3:50 to go on a pull-up jumper that lifted the Indians to a 33-24 advantage. But the Heralds clawed back with a pair of three-pointers from senior Joleen Corona to make it a three-point game.
With 16 seconds left, Corona made her third three-pointer of the quarter to cut the Burroughs lead to 39-38.
The Heralds (25-5; Olympic League runner-up) had an opportunity to take the lead after the Indians turned the ball over on an inbound pass with 10.4 seconds left.
Heralds guard Amaya Norris was fouled on the proceeding Whittier Christian possession and had an opportunity to put her squad in the lead with 6 seconds to go. However, the senior missed both attempts and Martin got the rebound and was immediately fouled. The junior knocked down both free-throws for a 41-38 lead with 4.9 seconds left.
“You know, I got knocked by a girl and my emotions just came out,” said Martin, who was substituted out with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter after a tough fall. “I just realized that if I wanted to win, I needed to come back into the game and really step up and deliver for my team.
“When I went to the line, I just canceled everything out and I came through in the end. I’m proud of myself for just sticking with it and not letting my emotions get the best of me.”
Martin finished with seven points and converted seven-of-eight shots from the line. Boulanger led the Indians with 14 points and six rebounds despite getting into foul trouble in the second quarter. The junior fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“Something just clicked in my head and I [told myself] that I have to start dominating now and help out my team now,” Boulanger said. “Our mentality right now is that we’ve gone this far and we can’t stop yet. We’ve gotten too far to be done.”
Indians junior Kayla Wrobel added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Corona finished with 16 points, 11 in the final quarter on a trio of three-point makes. Heralds sophomore Aidan Sherfey added 10 points.
The Indians benefited from the Heralds’ poor shooting in the first quarter after the hosts made one of nine attempts from the field. Burroughs ended the opening quarter on a 7-0 run for an 11-3 lead.
The Indians then received a pair of baskets from Wrobel that gave the visitors a 15-5 lead early in the second quarter.
A steal from Norris capped a 7-1 run for the Heralds, who cut the Indians advantage to 16-12 with 2:10 left in the first half.
Free throws from Wrobel would account for the final scoring of the half for a six-point Indians cushion at the break.
A three-pointer from Boulanger lifted Burroughs to a 23-12 lead at 6:58 in the third. But that would serve as the Indians’ final field goal of the quarter.
The Heralds sliced the Burroughs lead to 26-21 on a steal and basket from Sherfey with 3:48 in the third quarter.
The Heralds converted two Indians turnovers to points, but despite the Indians giveaways, four trips to the free-throw line helped the Burroughs stay in the lead, 28-23, at the end of the third.
“They were pressuring us and we knew it was going to be tough to bring the ball up and get into our offense,” Oganyan said. “We got it done. We attacked the basket, we got fouled, and when we came down to it, we made our free throws.”