The Sage Hill School girls’ basketball team jumped for joy, none higher than freshman shooting guard Megan Shean.
Sophomore power forward Emily Elliott had just banked in the game-winning shot with 1.4 seconds left, and the Lightning had pulled out a 47-46 victory over Laguna Hills in an Ultimate Flight game of the Hawk Holiday Classic on Friday at Los Amigos High.
Moments earlier, Shean had fouled Laguna Hills junior shooting guard Kayla Chang behind the three-point line with 17.4 seconds on the clock. Chang, who had a game-high 31 points, stepped up to the free-throw line and made all three shots.
Lightning coach Kerwin Walters said after the game that he disagreed with the foul call against Shean, but that was going to offer the freshman, who had her head in her hands during a timeout, little comfort in the moment. Laguna Hills had taken a 46-45 lead, but Sage Hill still had a chance to respond.
“That is the worst possible person to foul, and she made all three free throws,” said Walters, whose team also beat Laguna Hills (2-5) by a final of 52-44 in the CdM Tip-off Tournament last week. “It is what it is. To be honest, when you play basketball games, this is what it’s all about.
“There’s adversity. There’s things that don’t go your way. You may not agree with the call. It is what it is, but our girls did a great job of just coming back.”
The Lightning (6-2) brought the ball across the half-court line, but the offensive set was not developing as hoped. Walters called another timeout with eight seconds left, and the Lightning were able to execute a play for Elliott.
“We set up our double-screen play,” Lightning freshman point guard Isabel Gomez said. “Since Zoe [Mazakas] had four fouls, we didn’t want to have her set an illegal screen or anything.
“I just knew that I would have Emily underneath, wide-open for a layup.”
Gomez dropped the ball for Elliott to the right of the key, and she made a run to the rim. Elliott’s bank shot bounced on the rim before falling through. She said it was the first game-winning shot of her career.
“The feeling was awesome because I didn’t just score for myself, but I scored for the team,” Elliott said. “It was a good feeling that we won.”
Elliott had 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead the Lightning.
“She was out there yesterday working on layups because she was so upset with herself the day before not making layups,” Walters said of Elliott. “She did a great job today. I think Emily really shined, and she was hitting nice little intermediate shots. Her game is evolving.”
Gomez added 15 points and five assists. Elliott and Gomez combined to score all of the Lightning’s points in the fourth quarter.
Mazakas, a junior small forward who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, had four points, 13 rebounds, three steals and two assists. She has not comprised on her physical brand of basketball, in spite of her recent injury history.
“It’s pretty scary, especially because I fall a lot,” Mazakas said of learning to trust her right knee again. “I just kind of throw myself trying to get the ball, which isn’t always the smartest choice. Every time I hit the ground, I have this instant fear that, ‘Oh my gosh, something went wrong.’
“It’s really scary, but I also know that in situations like this where you’re down by one or we’re tied, it’s just so important to stay on top of my mental game and know that I have to trust myself, even though it’s difficult.”
Hawk Holiday Classic
Sage Hill 47, Laguna Hills 46
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Hills 10 – 13 – 13 – 10 — 46
Sage Hill 10 – 9 – 13 – 15 — 47
LH – K. Chang 31, L. Chang 7, Wiklem 4, Holder 2, Ibrahim 2.
3-pt. goals – K. Chang 1, L. Chang 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
SH – Elliott 26, Gomez 15, Mazakas 4, Shean 2.
3-pt. goals – Elliott 1, Gomez 1.
Fouled out – None.