Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Girls Hoops: OLu’s Valiant Effort Comes Up Short

2016 CIF So Cal Division 3 Regional champion Lake Elsinore Lakeside. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

2016 CIF So Cal Division 3 Regional champion Lake Elsinore Lakeside. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

Orange Lutheran turned in a courageous effort to rally from a 15-point deficit, but Lake Elsinore Lakeside held on for a razor-thin 35-34 win in the CIF So Cal Division 3 Regional finals that ended in some controversy on Saturday night at Ontario Colony High.

Trailing by 15 in the third and having no answer for Lakeside’s 6-4 center Emma Merriweather, OLu needed someone to get them going. The Lancers relied on senior Taelor Griffin, who led them to a big comeback to tie the game with under a minute left. OLu had several opportunities not go their way before fouling Marissa Williams with 0.5 left in the game. Williams made 1 of 2 to take the lead. OLu had one more chance as Jessi Matson threw a deep pass to Daniele Bryant, who took a shot and appeared to be fouled, but no foul was called, the clock had already expired and Lakeside survived.

“I thought in the first half Lakeside played harder,” OLu coach Tom Howard said. “They were very aggressive. They had some 3s bank in for them. Some of those things kind of demoralized us a little bit. We got caught up in a spiral and let the lead grow too much. That was huge and, obviously, their size and their length. They played really hard and physical. It’s tough when you play against a team like that. They are going to make it tough on you to get it open and get looks. We had to make some tough shots. We had to hit some unlikely shots down the stretch just to get caught up to them.”

Griffin led OLu (28-7) with 15 points, while Kimi Scudday hauled in nine rebounds for the Lancers.

Triann Thompson had 12 points and Marissa Williams had eight points and five rebounds for Lakeside (29-5). Merriweather had a game-high 13 rebounds, who was being guarded by Bryant, who finished with 10 points for OLu, which contained Lakeside’s star post player, while Griffin carried the team on her back in dramatic fashion.

“Taelor had to make tough shots,” Howard said. “We needed to be aggressive. We couldn’t be selective offensively. Obviously, we had to take some chances and we did. I know we were (tired) and we dragged. This is our ninth playoff game and it has taken its toll. I think that has been the reason for the slow start. Maybe, a couple more shots that could’ve gone for us that didn’t. You can sit and speculate all those little things, but we needed Taelor all year. We need her to create and she is going to miss some shots. She has to be that aggressive and she was. She was the big reason in getting back in that game.”

Lakeside will take on San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep on Thursday at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. Sacred Heart Cathedral defeated Sacramento Inderkum, 70-51. As for Orange Lutheran, they repeated as CIF-SS Champions and have never been this far in the postseason in team history. The Lancers lose four seniors, including Jada Reed, Gloria Bates and Griffin as they leave their legacy in mint condition.

“We are going to come in the program next year the same way we came in this year,” Howard said. “We are going to have a team that loves each other, that grows together, that plays hard for each other and the school. We’re going to have that. We have a great group of kids back. We lose great ones, but we will have a great group of kids and by that I mean people. They will continue this with what you see on the court with how hard they play, how they play together, how they pull for each other. We will be a close unit that has a strong bond. That is what you’re going to see next year.”

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