JSerra's Coco Miller goes up for a shot over Bishop Montgomery's Jessica Malazarte during Friday night's CIF-SS Division 4AA final at Godinez High.

JSerra's defeat feels sadly familiar


SANTA ANA – JSerra took the court at Godinez High on Friday night looking to avoid the same fate it experienced last season — a loss to Bishop Montgomery of Torrance in the CIF-SS Division 4AA girls basketball finals.

Unfortunately for the Lions, history was destined to repeat itself.

JSerra was outscored, 17-9, in the fourth quarter of a 59-49 defeat, suffering the all-too-familiar feeling of coming so close to the ultimate prize but falling just short.

“We just couldn’t make shots. That’s the bottom line,” JSerra coach Mary Rossignol said. “We needed to make big plays, and we couldn’t put the ball in the basket, and couldn’t get a defensive stop when we needed it.”

The Knights (19-13) shot 5 for 9 from the field in the fourth quarter and 5 for 5 from the free throw line. Jessica Malazarte scored nine of her 17 points in the fourth to lead Montgomery.

“We put them to the free throw line, and they’re a very good free-throw shooting team,” Rossignol said. “It kind of all went in their favor, and we just couldn’t make it happen.”

The Lions (23-7) got off to a hot start with 21 first-quarter points. Julia Ackerman made 4 of 5 shots from beyond the 3-point arc to spark the Lions. She scored 12 points in the quarter, but was contained in the second half and finished with 18.

“We ran plays (for Ackerman), but just couldn’t get the looks,” Rossignol said. “Obviously, they were keying on her. We tried to get other people involved, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”

After shooting 8 for 14 in the first quarter, the Lions shot 10 for 40 the rest of the game.

The Knights responded in the second quarter and took a 32-30 lead at halftime. Most of the damage was done in the paint, where the Knights had 10 offensive rebounds and finished with a 42-32 rebounding edge.

Bishop Montgomery led 42-40 at the start of the fourth and made two quick 3-pointers to extend the lead to eight. The Lions were unable to recover, suffering another disappointing end to their playoff run.

“They’re a tremendous group of kids; I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” Rossignol said. “I’m proud of the accomplishments they’ve had and will continue to have. They worked hard, but we just couldn’t get it done.”

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