Improved Marina girls’ basketball sees run to state finals end with loss to Bret Harte

The Marina High girls' basketball team fields questions following the CIF State Division V championship game in Sacramento.
The Marina girls’ basketball team fields questions during a postgame press conference following the CIF State Division V championship game against Angels Camp Bret Harte at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday. The Vikings lost 62-39.
(Andrew Turner)

Marina High girls’ basketball coach Daniel Roussel bore witness to the type of program growth that comes from issuing a challenge and it being accepted.

Marked improvement gave the Vikings a season, and an ending, to write home about, even if it was a bittersweet one.

The Vikings fell to Angels Camp Bret Harte 62-39 in the CIF State Division V final Saturday at the Golden 1 Center, capping an exciting and unexpected run for the self-proclaimed “underdog” squad from Huntington Beach.

“We challenged the girls in the offseason to work really hard,” Roussel said. “They accepted the challenge, and we spent a lot of time in the weight room, a lot of time in the gym. We definitely improved.”

Marina had 10 seniors on the roster, eight of which had spent four years in the program. Over the past three seasons, the Vikings had gone 17-59 with one playoff appearance, a 43-point first-round loss in the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs against eventual champion Long Beach Wilson in 2020.

“We brought them in as freshmen from tryouts,” Roussel said. “These are a lot of girls that really didn’t have a lot of basketball experience coming into high school. Our coaching staff, over the last four years now, has worked extremely hard with these girls to build skills, to build confidence.

“They’re great people. These are all great students in the classroom. I think our grade-point average is somewhere around 4.0. As a team, we represent Marina well, in the classroom, in the community and on the court.”

Freshman guard Rylee Bradley scored a game-high 23 points for Marina (21-16), with 16 of those points coming after halftime.

“I just adjusted to the situation, and I feel like I played better in the second half,” said Bradley, who admitted to fighting some nerves in the state finals environment.

The Vikings faced a severe rebounding disadvantage, with the Bullfrogs winning that battle 47-30. Ariah Fox, the leading scorer for Bret Harte (26-7), also led her team in that category. She finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocked shots.

“No,” Fox exclaimed when asked if she had allowed herself to think about a state title at any point this season. “That was not a thought in my mind. Not to be like ‘Debbie Downer,’ but I was not really thinking during [Mother Lode] League [play] that we would be at this point.”

Makenna Tutthill scored 10 points to go with six rebounds and three blocks for Bret Harte. Chase Silva had nine points and seven rebounds. Kadyn Rolleri, another key playmaker for the Bullfrogs, supplied six points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.

“I hope the town don’t burn down,” said Bret Harte coach Jeff Eltringham, who returned to his alma mater and won a state title in his first season in charge. “... This is pretty special for our town. We don’t do stuff like this very often.”

Marina started slow, falling behind 12-1 before Bradley made a floater on the run for the Vikings’ first field goal almost five minutes into the game. Tiana To’s steal and layup, aided by the perimeter defense of Maria Tejeda, cut the deficit to two possessions at 23-17 with 3:35 on the clock in the second quarter.

Bret Harte went on a 9-3 run to end the half, jumping out to a 32-20 lead at the break.

Bradley rattled in another tough runner to answer a buzzer-beating bank shot by Fox with six minutes left. That made it 48-34 in favor of Bret Harte. At one point, Bradley had scored 19 of the last 21 points for Marina, but not before the Bullfrogs had extended their lead to 54-34 with 4:46 remaining.

To finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two assists. Tejeda scored four points, and Sydnie Smith had two steals.

“It’s definitely another experience for us, another opportunity to bond as a team,” To said. “I think that we prepared for this game, but obviously, it didn’t come out the way we would have hoped to end our season. I’m very proud of us.”

Roussel said the Vikings set a few goals for this season. Marina accomplished one in beating Huntington Beach for the first time since 2006. The Vikings beat the Oilers twice, which helped them meet their last goal of making the section playoffs. Marina had won 10 of 11 games entering the state championship game.

“It wasn’t necessarily to win [the Wave] League, although we thought that was a possibility,” Roussel said. “It was to make the playoffs, and we told them all season that if we could get to the playoffs in Division 5 that we had a chance to make a run and win some games, and that proved to be true.”

CIF State Division V final

Bret Harte 62, Marina 39

Marina 8 - 12 - 10 - 9 39

Bret Harte 15 - 17 - 12 -18 62

M — Bradley 23, To 10, Tejeda 4, K. Nguyen 1, Gomez 1.

3-pt. Goals — To 2, Bradley 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.

BH — Fox 22, Tutthill 10, Silva 9, Kane 7, Rolleri 6, Arias 5, Desbouillons 3.

3-pt. Goals — Kane 2, Silva 1, Arias 1, Desbouillons 1.

Fouled out — None.

Technicals — None.

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