Sage Hill wins Division II state girls’ basketball championship
Emily Eadie made a reverse layup with one minute left to give Newport Beach Sage Hill its first lead since the first quarter, made another to put the Lightning on top to stay before Isabel Gomez and Kat Righeimer made three of four free throws in the final seconds to clinch a dramatic 51-47 victory over Fresno San Joaquin Memorial in the CIF Division II state girls’ basketball final at Golden 1 Center on Saturday.
Trailing by as many a 13 points, Sage Hill clawed its way back to pull even at 33-33 when Gomez banked in a three-pointer to beat the shot clock with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
The Lightning again fell behind in the fourth quarter, but showed resilience as they have throughout the playoffs to capture their first state title two weeks after losing to Orange Lutheran in the Southern Section Division 2A championship game.
“It was an exciting game to say the least … our girls are unbelievable,” Sage Hill coach Kerwin Walters said. “When we play like that there’s not a team in the world we can’t compete with. We’ve been in these kind of games. We knew we can’t play teams that can’t push us, so we scheduled super tough teams and all those losses helped us grow.”
The Lightning (27-10) trailed by as many as 13 points in the second quarter but closed the half on a 7-0 run to trail only 22-16.
Gomez finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Eadie contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds and Righeimer, who made a last-second jumper to beat Corona Santiago in the Southern California regional final, added 11 points.
Four of the Lightning starters are sophomores: Eadie, Righeimer, Zoie Lamkin and Annabelle Spotts. As eighth-graders each of them played on former Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s Mambas travel team along with his daughter Gianna, who also died in the helicopter crash in Calabasas in January 2020, and Sierra Canyon forward MacKenly Randolph, who played in the Open Division final Saturday night.
Meadow Roland had 10 points and freshman center Alexis Swillis grabbed 13 rebounds for the Panthers (27-7), the Central Section Division I champions.
“We’re a very mentally tough team, so being behind didn’t bother us,” said Gomez, a senior point guard who hopes to walk on at the University of Pennsylvania. “I knew I had to be more aggressive [in the second half] than I was in the first half and on the tying three-pointer I just saw the clock and had to take the shot.”
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