BURBANK — When the Burbank High girls’ basketball team lost to Burroughs in the final regular season game this season, it was not exactly the way the Bulldogs wanted to begin the playoffs.
But just moments after the loss, Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden gathered this team together for a serious talk.
“I told them that a new season starts tomorrow, and they have to step up for the playoffs,” Breeden said.
The players heeded his words and have embarked on an historic journey through the postseason. And that journey isn’t over yet.
Sparked by a big comeback push in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs left Temecula Valley in their wake Saturday to earn a 58-48 victory in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs at Burbank.
The No. 13-seeded Bulldogs (19-11) had never advanced past the second round of the playoffs prior to this season.
In the program’s first trip to the final four, Burbank will be on the road for a 7 p.m. semifinal game Tuesday against the winner of the matchup between No. 1 Summit and No. 8 Downey.
No matter who his team will face, Breeden said he is just elated that his group has been able to keep its season alive with three straight wins.
“These girls have worked so hard to get to this point,” said Breeden, whose team finished second in the Pacific League. “They come to practice six days a week, they don’t complain and they get the job done. I’m so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish this season.
“I tell them at this point we have nothing to lose. We are going to be the underdog and really the pressure is on our opponents.”
After a tight game through two quarters, the Bulldogs were outscored by the unseeded Golden Bears (15-16), 16-7, in the third quarter. That forced Burbank to play catch-up in the fourth, trailing by six, 35-29.
Taking advantage of a poor-shooting fourth in which Temecula Valley converted just four of its 20 shots from the field (20%), the Bulldogs outscored the Golden Bears, 29-13, in the fourth.
Burbank junior Jamie Gonzalez said the Bulldogs weren’t concerned at the prospect of having to battle back.
“In our playoff games we’ve been fighting back,” said Gonzalez, who had 12 points. “We just never gave up and we just kept on fighting. It was really important that we make as many free throws as possible in the fourth, that’s how we were able to keep our lead.”
In the fourth, the Bulldogs converted 14 of 19 shots from the charity stripe.
Trailing since late in the third quarter, Burbank was able to grab the lead, 39-37, on a jump shot that banked off the glass by senior Damarie Gonzalez with 3:53 remaining. The Bulldogs then received a long two-pointer by Lysette Perez, a pair of free throws from junior Aja Locke, a three-pointer by Perez and two free throws from Jamie Gonzalez, in succession, to take an 11-point lead, 48-37, with 2:20 remaining.
“This team is just one that can overcome adversity,” Breeden said. “We know that [Temecula Valley] was going to counter. So, after that third quarter I told them ‘They counter-punched you guys, now we’ve got to counter, and they did.”
Damarie Gonzalez paced the Bulldogs with 19 points and had 11 rebounds and five steals. Locke added 10 points.
Burbank had trouble containing Golden Bears’ junior Iman Lathan, who led all scorers with 28 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
Temecula Valley took an 8-6 lead after the first quarter and Burbank grabbed the advantage in the second and went into halftime with a 22-19 cushion.
“I’m so proud of what this team was able to do,” Damarie Gonzalez said. “This is really special for us.”