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Brea Olinda comes up short in state title game
BERKELEY – It was a tie game at halftime.
Brea Olinda coach Jeff Sink succinctly and accurately described the rest of the game.
“In the second half,” he said, “their athletes dominated.”
Bishop O’Dowd’s Dragons quickly built a big lead in the third quarter and rolled to a 55-40 win over Brea on Friday in the CIF State Championships girls basketball Division III game at Haas Pavilion on the Cal campus.
Aisia Robertson, who signed with Kansas, led O’Dowd with 16 points and five assists. Asha Thomas, a super-quick point guard who signed with Cal, scored 12 with five assists. Myah Pace had 15 rebounds for the Dragons.
Brea’s Reili Richardson scored 19 points, almost half of the Ladycats’ total.
O’Dowd (25-9) won its third state title over the past four years, and the third in the school’s girls basketball history. The school’s boys team plays Mater Dei on Saturday in the state Open Division final.
It was a rare loss in a state final for Brea Olinda (26-5). The Ladycats are 9-3 in CIF State championship games. The nine state titles are the most in California girls basketball history.
It’s an old saying in sports – “Maybe next year.” It might be “probably next year” for Brea.
Only two Ladycats starters Friday are seniors. Seven freshmen are on the varsity roster. Two of them, Janei Fuamatu and Tyiona Watkins, started Friday and a third, Krislyn Marsh, played 11 minutes. Richardson is a junior.
Sink has coached Brea in six state championship games. This year’s team will be one of his more memorable.
“I think I’m more proud of this team than any I’ve coached because they’re so young,” Sink said. “I thought we’d be here in another year. I think they’re a year ahead of where I thought they’d be.”
Sink praised the play and leadership of senior starters Sierra Bonini and Shaylissa Jarrett. Jarrett played despite a high ankle sprain.
Brea had a 22-18 lead late in the second quarter. O’Dowd caught up to create a 22-22 halftime tie. Richardson made a 3-pointer to open the third quarter and give Brea a 25-22 advantage.
With 5:15 left in the quarter, Robertson converted a three-point play to put the Dragons on top, 27-25. They would grow that lead from there.
O’Dowd outscored Brea, 18-9, in the third quarter to take a 40-31 lead into the fourth.
Chances of a Brea comeback eroded quickly in the final quarter. Thomas made a 3-pointer, Aerial Chavarin scored inside and Myla Andrada made a 3 on a fine kick-out pass from Thomas and it was 54-33.
Brea played zone, figuring that would keep Ladycats close the basket to counter O’Dowd’s rebounding efforts. The zone gave the Dragons some open outside shots, which they took, and they made a few of them.
O’Dowd was 21 for 67 from the field for 31 percent, and 4 for 16 from 3-point range. Brea was 14 for 51 overall and 3 for 13 on 3s. The Ladycats were 7 for 27 in the second half.
Brea players had a short of list of opponents they found quicker than O’Dowd.
“Vanden, the team O’Dowd beat,” Richardson said. O’Dowd defeated Vanden in the CIF Northern California Regionals final.
“Centennial was super fast,” said Bononi of the Corona team that Brea beat in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
Sink predicted college stardom and perhaps a WNBA career for Robertson.
As for Brea’s future, Sink, while disappointed by Friday’s outcome, was optimistic. Playing in a state championship might happen again, and very soon, too, for the Ladycats.
As Sink said, “It’s what we like to do.”
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