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KYUSUNG GONG , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Brea Olinda's Reili Richardson, left, tries to shoot over El Dorado's Brooke Salas during a Crestview League game in January.

Rivals Brea Olinda, El Dorado to meet for crown

STAFF WRITER

It has been one of the better Orange County rivalries over the past few years, and Saturday night’s installment will be for the biggest prize to date: a CIF Southern California Regional championship.

For the third time this season, Brea Olinda and El Dorado will meet on the court. The victor will be the Division III regional champion and earn a spot in next weekend’s CIF State championship game in Berkeley.

“The girls are all pretty excited,” Golden Hawks coach Wayne Carlson said. “They’ll be prepared. They won’t be nervous. We’ve been in a couple tough situations these past few weeks and have played through them. And now we’re playing a team we’re very familiar with.”

Brea Olinda and El Dorado finished 1-2 in the Crestview League standings as the Ladycats topped the Golden Hawks in their two league encounters: an 11-point victory on Jan. 20 and a six-point win on Feb. 6.

Brea Olinda’s longtime coach, Jeff Sink, referred to the last four meetings with El Dorado as nail-biters. The two north county powers split the 2013-14 season series at a game a piece, and both games were decided by four points or less.

Senior guard Shaylissa Jarrett has arguably been the Ladycats’ most effective player against El Dorado the past two seasons, averaging 17.5 points against the Golden Hawks. Unfortunately for Brea, Jarrett suffered a severel sprained left ankle midway through the second quarter of the regional semifinal Tuesday.

“There’s about a 95 percent chance she can’t play (tonight), unless by some divine intervention it gets better by Saturday,” Sink said of Jarrett. “It’s a pretty brutal blow.

“But injury is part of sports and you can’t complain. We haven’t suffered one all season. The timing is just ridiculously bad.”

El Dorado has prepared this week as if the Ladycats senior captain will be on the floor. With Brea Olinda’s Reili Richardson, Sierra Bononi and Tyiona Watkins all being capable scorers, the Golden Hawks have plenty to worry about defensively.

“They’re a talented team with or without Shaylissa,” Carlson said. “Slowing down their penetration, that’ll be the key for us. We can’t give them any easy baskets in transition.”

Seniors Brooke Salas and Jaylin Jones have played well against Brea Olinda this season, combining to score nearly 80 percent of El Dorado’s points in this year’s meetings.

The Golden Hawks will start five seniors tonight, while Brea might start just one if Jarrett isn’t able to play. As Sink said, though, that might allow the Ladycats to play a little looser than their counterparts.

“Young kids can play over their heads,” he said. “El Dorado starts five seniors and this is their year. That’s more stressful because they don’t have the option to fall back and say, ‘OK, we’re gonna do better next year.’

“I think that puts more pressure on them than on us.”

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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