Brea Olinda will face Mater Dei for 1AA title
Brea Olinda and Santa Ana Mater Dei are less than 20 miles apart, but the rivalry between the schools’ girls’ basketball teams extends nationwide.
They’re the two top-ranked teams in America, according to ESPN, and after winning their Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals Tuesday at the Anaheim Convention Center, they will each vie for their third consecutive championship later this week.
To get there, top-seeded Brea Olinda defeated fourth-seeded Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, 55-36.
For a while, it looked like an upset was brewing when Brea Olinda blew a 13-4 first-quarter lead after UCLA-bound senior Justine Hartman hyperextended her right knee with 2:38 remaining in the quarter.
Hartman sat out the rest of the first half and Canyon Springs reduced the deficit to 19-18 at halftime. But the 6-foot-2 center reentered the game in the third quarter and Jeanier Olukemi scored nine points to give the Ladycats a comfortable 36-29 lead heading into the fourth.
Olukemi finished with a game-high 15 points for the Ladycats (29-0), who outrebounded the Cougars, 42-32, and outshot them 37.5% to 25%. Tear’a Laudermill had 13 points for Canyon Springs (27-3).
In the other semifinal, third-seeded Mater Dei defeated seventh-seeded Santa Monica, 57-37.
The Monarchs held the Vikings to 11.1% shooting in the first quarter and led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but Santa Monica kept fighting and reduced the Monarchs’ lead to 28-19 at halftime.
The Vikings came to within five points at the top of the third quarter, but the Monarchs quickly tightened their defense and ended the quarter ahead, 40-30. They went on to outscore Santa Monica 17-7 in the fourth.
Connecticut-bound senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Alexyz Vaioletama had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Mater Dei (28-1). Kristina Johnson led Santa Monica (22-9) with 12 points.
Mater Dei and Brea Olinda will play Friday night at 8:45.
“This is the game we’ve been praying for,” Hartman said of playing the Monarchs. “Everyone’s been wanting to see this game.”
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