The Fountain Valley High girls’ basketball team had just about everything go right for it in the first meeting with Newport Harbor this season.
Nine days earlier, the Barons had made 10 three-pointers en route to a 21-point win, a game that could easily stand up as one of Fountain Valley’s best shooting nights.
Newport Harbor knew that such shooting was not sustainable, and the Sailors were ready to try to earn the split in their home half of the season series.
Fountain Valley squandered a 13-point lead, but the Barons held on to defeat the Sailors 46-44 on Thursday night to sweep the teams’ Wave League meetings.
Zoe Ziegler and Kat Luu each had 12 points to lead the Barons (13-13, 3-2 in league). Ziegler, a 6-foot-4 freshman center, was back to full strength after battling illness for five days.
“I had strep throat and the flu, so it was like a double whammy,” Ziegler said. “It felt really good to get back in my rhythm. The Marina game [on Tuesday], although I did play a minute, you could tell I was off. I was back in my zone [tonight].
“It feels really good to get back on the court, and I feel excited to play well.”
Ziegler had eight rebounds, including two late offensive rebounds on missed free throws that allowed the Barons to run out the final 10 seconds.
Fountain Valley took a one-game lead over Newport Harbor (12-15, 2-3) for second with one league game remaining. The Barons have the inside track to the CIF Southern Section playoffs, as their final game is at home against Laguna Beach (17-10, 0-5).
“I am super happy for these kids,” Barons coach Marianne Karp said. “I don’t know if they understand what they have accomplished.
“It gives me goosebumps. We had a winning program. We’re trying to get back there, and we still got young people. This is growing. This is good for us.”
Caitlin Okawa found Audrey Tengan in the right corner for a three-pointer that gave Fountain Valley a 20-7 lead to close the first quarter.
The Barons had built the lead primarily by applying pressure on the Sailors’ ball-handlers and getting out in transition. Fountain Valley had 10 steals in the first quarter, seven of which came from the trio of Luu, Megan Lai and Margaret Tengan.
In the second half, Newport Harbor delivered its best punch. The Sailors looked to run after grabbing defensive rebounds. Willa Rath scored 12 of her game-high 20 points after halftime.
Newport Harbor took its first lead since Chloe Swanson’s offensive putback opened the scoring when Rath made a pullup jumper with 6:37 left to make it 38-37. Rath added 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.
The lead changed hands three times in succession. Fountain Valley went ahead for good on a baseline jumper by Tiffany Shimizu with 2:59 to go.
Cydney Jover added 13 points and four steals for the Sailors. Swanson had six points and 11 rebounds, and Emma Fults chipped in with 13 rebounds and three steals.
“Going into the game, I was just trying to be focused from the start,” Rath said. “In the past, I’ve struggled getting started. From the start, I was trying to be on my game because I knew this game was really important to get into the playoffs.
“It was a huge game. In the locker room before the game, everyone was really focused and really wanted to win this. It’s hard losing it because that’s the most focused we’ve been since Battle of the Bay.”
Fountain Valley 46, Newport Harbor 44
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Fountain Valley 20 – 5 – 12 – 9 — 46
Newport Harbor 7 – 13 – 10 – 14 — 44
FV – Luu 12, Ziegler 12, A. Tengan 6, Shimizu 5, M. Tengan 4, Hasegawa 3, Lai 2, Suekawa 2.
3-pt. goals – A. Tengan 2, Luu 1, Shimizu 1, Hasegawa 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
NH – Rath 20, Jover 13, Swanson 6, Muller 3, Fults 2.
3-pt. goals – Jover 2, Rath 1.
Fouled out – Rath.