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Brea Olinda beats El Dorado with late surge
ONTARIO – One team’s elation was the other’s devastation.
That was the outcome of Saturday’s CIF Southern California Division III Regional girls basketball final after top-seeded Brea Olinda mounted an improbable fourth-quarter comeback.
Sierra Bononi hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:12 remaining, and the Ladycats erased a nine-point deficit in the final period to defeat El Dorado, 50-46, at Colony High.
A layup by Madison Lawson had given El Dorado a 42-33 lead with seven minutes remaining.
That’s when the Ladycats (26-4) decided they needed to exhaust their resources.
“If you’re going to lose, don’t take a possible game plan into the locker room,” Brea coach Jeff Sink said of his message to the team. “We went into our matchup zone full-court, and we picked up the tempo and ran every single time.”
The Ladycats turned up the pressure on defense, bolting in transition every time they got the ball. Freshman Tyiona Watkins had 12 points in the fourth, largely on the fastbreak.
Reili Richardson became the distributor. As she was falling out of bounds, she passed to Watkins for a layup. Later, she drove the ball into the paint before finding Bononi in the left corner for the critical 3-pointer.
Bononi’s shot gave the Ladycats a 44-42 lead. It was Brea’s first lead since 12-11 in the opening period.
Richardson said Brea’s confidence sky-rocketed with Bononi’s shot.
“(That’s when) I knew we were going to win the game,” she said.
The Ladycats built their lead to 50-44, capping a 17-2 run.
They advance to their sixth state championship game under Sink. Brea will face Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in the state title game at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. That game will be played at 2 p.m. on Friday.
Watkins had a game-high 22 points. Richardson added 14 points and six assists, and Shaylissa Jarrett played 25 minutes despite a severe ankle sprain.
The loss ended the deepest postseason run ever for an El Dorado (27-9) team. The Golden Hawks knocked off CIF-SS champion North Torrance to advance to their first regional final in school history.
El Dorado shut down the Ladycats’ offense for much of the game. Jaylin Jones (19 points) and Brooke Salas (15 points) helped the Golden Hawks take a 29-21 lead into halftime. They led, 38-31, after the third.
“We’re really happy for our kids,” El Dorado coach Wayne Carlson said. “They played so hard to get here. We played our hearts out. We just didn’t have enough at the end.”