Los Alamitos finishes strong, secures Sunset title


HUNTINGTON BEACH - Los Alamitos’s girls basketball team can cross off the No. 1 goal on its preseason checklist.

The seventh-ranked Griffins secured their second consecutive Sunset League title on Monday night, grinding out a 56-48 victory over No. 8 Huntington Beach in what was the penultimate game of the regular season for both squads at Huntington Beach.

The Griffins (20-5, 9-0) have reeled off 11 straight wins, and can add to that streak with a win over Marina at home on Wednesday night, its last outing before playoff brackets are released Sunday.

“It was a rough one, but it’s good to be through it,” Los Alamitos coach Rich Alvarez said. “First half, we pretty much let (Huntington Beach) dictate what they wanted to do. At halftime, I challenged the girls to take over the tempo. We knew they didn’t want to play up-tempo, so it was up to us to get the game going at that speed.”

Trailing 33-27 at the start of the third, the Griffins altered the pace of play with its ability to run the floor. A pair of transition 3-pointers by Brianna Flynn ignited a 13-2 run to start the quarter, allowing Los Al to grab a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“The speeding us up was a smart thing to do,” Oilers coach Russ McClurg said. “With the (limited) depth we have, you got to be in tremendous shape, and we wore down. Those first two quarters we did pretty well, but in that third quarter we flattened out.”

After opening the game 3 for 4 on 3-pointers, Huntington Beach (21-6, 6-3) went 2 for 14 from beyond the arc in the second half. The Oilers also missed four free throws in the fourth, while Los Al was a perfect 8-for-8.

Kaylyn Nakaji’s layup with three minutes to play pulled the Oilers within 50-48, but it was Huntington Beach’s final field goal down the stretch.

Five players finished with seven points or more for Los Alamitos, led by Dani Iwami’s 11 points. Samantha Gray (14), Frankie Wade-Sanchez (10) and Nakaji (11) each finished in double figures for the Oilers.

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