Westlake holds on to defeat Sage Hill in regional semifinals
Emily Elliott stood outside Ueberroth Gymnasium for some time after Thursday’s game, surrounded by friends, family and teammates and partaking in a series of group hugs.
Nearly two weeks after her graduation, the senior forward played her final game for the Sage Hill School girls’ basketball team in a four-year varsity career.
A furious comeback attempt by the Lightning came up just short, as Sage Hill lost to Westlake Village Westlake 58-55 in a CIF State Southern California Regional Division 2-A semifinal game.
“I think this foundation we built is stronger than anything we built before, especially this year,” Elliott said. “When we break on ‘family,’ I think we truly mean family. Everyone not leaving here tonight or not wanting to leave here, I think it’s a true testament to the type of love we have for each other and how much we care.”
In a game of runs, Sage Hill (19-7) surged to the finish. The Lightning were down 51-36 with 5:50 remaining after Alyssa Jackson drained a three-pointer for Westlake (20-3).
Still down by nine points with two minutes remaining, Elliott went on to score the next six points for Sage Hill. She scored from the baseline off an entry pass from Isabel Gomez. Elliott struck again after getting a steal 12 seconds later, and she made two free throws to cut the deficit to 56-52 with 1:28 to go.
The gap closed to 56-55 when Kat Righeimer sank a corner three with 51 seconds left.
Kate Hackney missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity that came next for Westlake, but the Lightning could not secure the defensive rebound. Mariah Elohim drove to the basket and drew the fifth foul on Elliott to get her out of the game.
Another miss at the free-throw line gave Sage Hill the ball back with a chance to take its first lead since the end of the first quarter, but a traveling call went against the Lightning.
Hackney went back to the line, and this time, she made both free throws with 4.8 seconds left. A last-second shot from the left wing for the tie did not fall for Gomez.
Sage Hill coach Kerwin Walters said his team had no quit in it, a quality it showed in rallying from a nine-point deficit in the second half to win the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA title.
“We played great defense,” Walters said. “They found it challenging to play against us, and once our shots start to fall, you see how dangerous we are. We’re going to be a phenomenal team over the next few years.”
Elliott led the Lightning with 19 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Gomez scored 12 points to go with seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Righeimer compiled 12 points, four rebounds and two steals, Emily Eadie had 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists, and Annabelle Spotts chipped in with two points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.
London Gamble had a team-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists for Westlake. Lindsay Gould scored 12 points, Elohim had nine points and three assists, and Devin Feiereisen added six points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Warriors.
“We just needed to understand our roles,” Gamble said. “We needed to be intentional about what we did, and we needed to have lockdown [defense] because we knew they were a powerful offense and they have good shooting ability.”
Westlake, the Marmonte League champion, had a three-hour road trip to get to Sage Hill. The Warriors have a longer journey ahead of them, as they will travel to Oceanside El Camino (17-5) for the regional final.
“I don’t care if we’re going to … New York,” Westlake coach Josh Budde chuckled. “It don’t matter. I said after the first game if we get to go to San Diego or Orange County, we’re going to enjoy that ride … I know [my players] don’t care just because we get one more opportunity to play, and we get to play for a state title.”
CIF State Southern California Regional Division 2-A Semifinals
Westlake Village Westlake 58, Sage Hill 55
Westlake 16 – 16 – 16 – 10 – 58
Sage Hill 17 – 8 – 11 – 19 – 55
W – Gamble 16, Gould 12, Elohim 9, Hackney 8, Jackson 7, Feiereisen 6.
3-pt. goals – Jackson 2, Gould 2, Feiereisen 2, Elohim 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
SH – Elliott 19, Righeimer 12, Gomez 12, Eadie 10, Spotts 2.
3-pt. goals – Gomez 4, Righeimer 3.
Fouled out – Elliott.
Technicals – None.
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