Marina girls’ basketball loses heartbreaker to Gahr in Division 5AA semifinals

Marina's Rylee Bradley leaves the court after the Vikings lost to Gahr in a playoff game.
Marina’s Rylee Bradley leaves the court after the Vikings lost to Gahr in a CIF Southern Section Division 5AA girls’ basketball semifinal game on Saturday night.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Marina High girls’ basketball coach Daniel Roussel never has to worry about the Vikings’ heart and will to win.

Playing on the road for the third straight round and against a higher-seeded squad, they were there again Saturday night in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs.

Shots still need to fall to advance against a good team.

Cerritos Gahr sophomore guard Christine Ho made her last one count.

Ho drained a straightaway three-pointer with 28 seconds left, the eventual game-winning shot as the host Gladiators rallied for a 39-38 win.

Marina's Rylee Bradley runs up court against Gahr's Christine Ho during Saturday night's game.
Marina’s Rylee Bradley runs up court against Gahr’s Christine Ho during Saturday night’s game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

No. 3-seeded Gahr (25-6) advances to play top-seeded St. Margaret’s in the Division 5AA championship game. St. Margaret’s was a 55-39 winner over South Hills in the other semifinal game.

The season still isn’t over for Marina (17-15), which will play in the CIF State Southern California Regional tournament beginning Feb. 28. Roussel said it’s the first time the Vikings have made the state playoffs since 1998, which remains the year of their only section final appearance.

“We’re excited to keep playing,” Roussel said. “We’ve been on a really nice roll over the last six games, but everything with us starts with our defense and our effort. I thought it was excellent again tonight. It was a really evenly matched game. Even though our shots weren’t falling, we just don’t have any quit in us. I’m really proud of the girls.”

Marina's Kim Nguyen battles for a lose ball against Gahr's Christine Ho during Saturday's playoff semifinal game.
Marina’s Kim Nguyen battles for a lose ball against Gahr’s Christine Ho during Saturday’s playoff semifinal game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Freshman guard Rylee Bradley pushed the pace for Marina, scoring a game-high 21 points. Senior guard Tiana To added six points, and sophomore guard Maria Tejada scored four points — both baskets coming off her own steals — before fouling out.

The Vikings led 37-29 with 4:40 left in the game, after a put-back by sophomore center Sydnie Smith. But they would score just one more point the rest of the way.

Twice in the final two minutes, Gahr senior guard Lauryn Teramoto drove into the lane and had a shot that failed to hit anything. Roussel was adamant that Marina didn’t touch the ball before it went out of bounds, but Gahr was awarded the ball each time.

The second occasion hurt the visitors. It gave Ho the opportunity to hit the game-winner. Her fourth make from downtown gave Gahr a 39-37 lead.

Marina's Tiana To goes up for a shot against a Gahr defender during Saturday night's game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We just teach the girls to keep playing and fighting, no matter what happens out there,” Roussel said. “Sometimes the ref’s calls aren’t going to go our way, but overall I thought they did a fair job. We just needed to make a few more shots tonight.”

Bradley missed a runner off the glass and out with about 10 seconds left, and Teramoto dribbled it down to 1.1 seconds left before she was fouled for the Gladiators. Then, near disaster for Gahr.

Gahr was assessed a technical foul because a player came off the bench, coach Al Howard said.

Marina's Rhianna Alaniz goes up for a rebound against Gahr's Jody Colbert, left, and Kameryn Mitchell during Saturday's game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“They said that one girl stepped on the court,” said Howard, whose team survived an off night from senior standout and leading scorer Kameryn Mitchell (three points before fouling out). “They all jumped up, but her foot was on the court. I said, ‘You call that right now?’ And [the referee] said, ‘Coach, it’s CIF.’ I get it.”

After Gahr’s Teramoto missed the front end of the one-and-one for the Marina personal foul, Vikings senior co-captain Kim Nguyen stepped to the line for two shots on the Gahr technical foul with a chance to tie the score.

The first free throw was off the back of the rim. Nguyen recovered to make the second, and the Vikings got the ball out of bounds on the sideline. But, with just 1.1 seconds still to play, they failed to get a shot off before the buzzer.

Marina's Kim Nguyen reacts after missing the first of two technical foul shots in the Vikings' semifinal game against Gahr.
Marina’s Kim Nguyen reacts after missing the first of two technical foul shots in the Vikings’ semifinal game against Gahr.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)


CIF Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs


Gahr 39, Marina 38

Marina 8 – 7 – 14 – 10 – 38

Gahr 5 – 13 – 8 – 13 – 39

M – Bradley 21, To 6, Tejada 4, Nguyen 3, Smith 2, Grasse 2.

3-pt. goals – Bradley 1.

Fouled out – Tejada.

Technicals – None.

G – Ho 15, Teramoto 9, Colbert 5, Ulloa 5, Mitchell 3, Kodua 2.

3-pt. goals – Ho 4.

Fouled out – Mitchell.

Technicals – Bench.


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