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Sage Hill girls’ basketball puts up fight in loss to Mater Dei

Sage Hill's Amalia Holguin (10) shoots a short jumper against Mater Dei in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic on Saturday.
(James Carbone)
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In the past two seasons, the Sage Hill School girls’ basketball team has won the program’s first CIF Southern Section and CIF State titles.

If recent history is any indication, the ascendant Lightning may not be done rising through the ranks.

Sage Hill played on another big stage Saturday, acquitting itself quite well against Mater Dei in a matchup of the top two teams in Orange County.

The Lightning challenged the Monarchs deep into the second half, but host Mater Dei came away with a 62-50 win over Sage Hill in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic.

Sage Hill's Emily Eadie (1) drives to the basket against Mater Dei's Jenessa Cotton (42).
Sage Hill’s Emily Eadie (1) drives to the basket against Mater Dei’s Jenessa Cotton (42) in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

Playing without the services of junior forward Annabelle Spotts, the Lightning maintained contact with the Monarchs, eventually making a fourth-quarter run.

Mater Dei led 40-26 after Jenessa Cotton closed a personal scoring run of seven consecutive points between the second and third quarters.

Freshman point guard Amalia Holguin, who finished with a game-high 22 points, had the hot hand to start the final period. She scored eight points in the first two minutes of the frame, including a perfect trip to the free-throw line after being fouled on a three-point shot.

Sage Hill's Kat Righeimer (11) passes to Emily Eadie (1) against Mater Dei in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic.
Sage Hill’s Kat Righeimer (11) passes to Emily Eadie (1) against Mater Dei in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

Holguin also hit a step-back three to cut the Lightning’s deficit to 48-45, before dishing out an assist on Kat Righeimer’s three from the left wing with 4:03 remaining. The Monarchs’ lead had been trimmed to 49-48.

“In the [second half], I feel like we took each play one-by-one,” Righeimer said. “We were patient. We didn’t let the other team rush us. We were calm with it, so I feel like that was a really important part of our game, which led to the one-point differential.”

A combination of foul trouble — Emily Eadie, Zoie Lamkin, Holguin and Righeimer each ended up with four fouls — and the return of Mater Dei’s full-court press aided the final margin, as the Monarchs marched to the free-throw line in the closing minutes.

Sage Hill's Zoie Lamkin (13) drives for a layup against Mater Dei in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

“I loved the response defensively,” Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said. “We put the press back on. I took the press off for a little bit. I thought we got a little lax, and that’s probably my fault. We put the press back on, we got some turnovers, and got a little separation there at the end.

“Give them credit. They played really well in that stretch to cut it to one. Amalia made some tough shots. We were right there.”

Pacifica Christian Orange County transfer Addie Deal and Caia Elisaldez each had 17 points for Mater Dei (19-2), which has won 11 games in a row and is ranked No. 3 in the CIF Division 1 poll. Cotton had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Shaena Brew contributed eight points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Sage Hill's Amalia Holguin (10) looks for an open player against Mater Dei in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic.
Sage Hill’s Amalia Holguin (10) looks for an open player against Mater Dei in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

“It’s exciting when you get to play against a good team, your friends are on it,” Holguin said. “It just pushes you, and it makes us feel better when we’re playing against a good team and we fight through it.”

Righeimer poured in 18 points to go with eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Eadie had six points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Grace Bori and Lamkin each scored two points.

“This is a loss, and it sucks to lose for us,” Sage Hill coach Kerwin Walters said. “But I am more proud of them than any win that we’ve had this year because of the style and the energy they all put in collectively. I couldn’t be prouder of what they did.”

Sage Hill's Kat Righeimer (11), Grace Bori (4), Emily Eadie (1) and Zoie Lamkin (13) walk off the court during a timeout.
(James Carbone)

Sage Hill (13-8), ranked No. 4 in Division 1, took another loss on Monday against No. 5-ranked Corona Santiago by a count of 44-40. The Lightning beat the Sharks in the regional finals on the way to their Division II state title last season.

This stretch is part of what Walters and the Lightning hope will serve as ample preparation to compete in the Open Division.

“The good news is I don’t make that decision,” Walters said when asked about his team’s prospects of playing in the top playoff bracket. “I hope we’re in the Open Division. I hope we get an opportunity to compete against the best, and if we’re blessed with that, clearly we’re going to take that opportunity.”

Sage Hill's Emily Eadie (1) and Mater Dei's Addie Deal (3) dive for a loose ball in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic.
Sage Hill’s Emily Eadie (1) and Mater Dei’s Addie Deal (3) dive for a loose ball in the Matt Denning Nike Hoops Classic on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

Mater Dei 62, Sage Hill 50

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Sage Hill 14 – 12 – 11 – 13 50

Mater Dei 20 – 15 – 13 – 14 62

SH — Holguin 22, Righeimer 18, Eadie 6, Bori 2, Lamkin 2.

3-pt. goals — Holguin 4, Righeimer 2.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.

MD — Deal 17, Elisaldez 17, Cotton 15, Brew 8, Dunbar-Hawkins 3, Vela 2.

3-pt. goals — Deal 1, Elisaldez 1, Brew 1, Dunbar-Hawkins 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.

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