Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Girls Hoops: Brea’s Heading Back To State Finals

The 2016 CIF So al Division 1 Regional champion Brea Olinda Ladycats. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

The 2016 CIF So al Division 1 Regional champion Brea Olinda Ladycats. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

The Ladycats are back where they are used to being … heading to Sacramento to play for a state championship.

With Jasmin Rachal hitting her 3s in the first quarter and Reili Richardson going 17 of 17 at the free-throw line, Brea Olinda never gave Murrieta Vista Murrieta a a chance en route to a 64-55 victory in the CIF So Cal Division 1 Regional finals on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State.

Reili Richardson of Brea Olinda used her aggressiveness to get to the foul line 17 times and she made all 17 free throws. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

Reili Richardson of Brea Olinda used her aggressiveness to get to the foul line 17 times and she made all 17 free throws. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

“With a special player like Reili Richardson that comes around once or twice every career, it makes the game easier,” Brea Olinda coach Jeff Sink said. “We had everyone else play today. We had a couple freshman play as well as several sophomores. It’s always stressful. You have to wonder if the stage is too big or too much. I was hoping for blissful ignorance on their part and that may have been the case.

“I thought it was a bit of an ugly game. It was well played defensively on both ends. I think both teams did struggle to get into their offense. It’s classic arena ball as far as I’m concerned. Shooting percentages drop, kids aren’t used to the arena and it’s a college court. I think a lot of factors come into play. Our goal was to keep it tight on defense, make them shoot from the perimeter and run the other way.”

Richardson led the Ladycats (28-4) with 27 points, six assists and five rebounds. Rachal added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and eight rebounds. Tyiona Watkins also grabbed eight boards to go with her 12 points. Richardson was not aware that she was perfect from the free-throw line, which surprised her and her coach.

“17 for 17, Wow! I taught her how to shoot free throws,” Sink joked. “She has matured. She used to live and die by the 3. I didn’t know she was 17 for 17. That is an impressive stat.”

Jasmin Rachal (No. 20) of Brea Olinda knocked down four 3s against Vista Murrieta. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

Jasmin Rachal (No. 20) of Brea Olinda knocked down four 3s against Vista Murrieta. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

Brittany Reed had a team-high 22 points and Keilanei Cooper had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Broncos (30-5), who got as close as two points to the Ladycats. They had several opportunities to tie the game, but could never get even or get a lead in the game.

“It has been a special run,” Broncos coach Kurt Ruth said. “We have done a lot of historical things. We broke the record for most wins in a season for this program. We are the first team in school history to advance to a (So Cal) Regional final. Are we a little disappointed right now? Yeah. We felt like we were confident that we can take that next step and play for a state championship in Sacramento, so it’s disappointing. This is more about the journey than anything else. They are going to reflect in the future and look back on what they have accomplished on this team and for this program. It’s a disappointment. I thought we could have done better. I felt good about where we were, but it just didn’t happen today.”

As the Broncos got close, it was Richardson who stepped in to lead the Ladycats to one more win. She scored 13 points in the fourth, including nine from the foul line.

“It’s arena ball,” Richardson said. “If my 3s aren’t dropping, I try to attack and get fouled, so I can go to the free-throw line.”

Brea Olinda heads back to the CIF State Finals to take on Sacramento St. Francis, which defeated Castro Valley, 66-52, in the Nor Cal Regional finals.

“Were not leaving Sacramento,” Sink said, “until we are done.”

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