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Huntington Beach title hopes crushed by late 3-pointer
AZUSA – The irony of the basket itself was rivaled only by how crushing a blow it was to Huntington Beach’s championship aspirations.
With 31 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Bishop Montgomery trailing by two points, the Knights had put forth one of their worst shooting performances of the season from beyond the 3-point line, having sank just one of 18 attempts to that point.
When sophomore Kayla Padilla’s running floater clanked off the rim and sent the ball back up into the air, Padilla wisely tipped her miss out to a wide-open Jessica Malazarte in the corner. Malazarte buried the 3-pointer, putting Bishop Montgomery ahead by one point.
Huntington Beach was unable to respond on any of its final three possessions, and the Knights willed their way to a 41-38 victory over the Oilers to claim the CIF-SS Division 1A championship on Friday night at Azusa Pacific University.
“I’ve got a lot of kids crying right now, and I’m crying on the inside, but I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Huntington Beach coach Russ McClurg said. “It was a great crowd and we had opportunities to seal it, but I thought we had some tough calls there towards the end. We gave it our all and they left their hearts out there today.”
Oilers senior Frankie Wade-Sanchez scored a game-high 29 points and battled for 17 rebounds, eight coming on the offensive end. With Huntington Beach trailing by a point at the half, Wade-Sanchez scored 16 straight points for the Oilers, including all 12 of the team’s third-quarter points and the first four in the fourth.
“I always go where I feel like I’m needed,” Wade-Sanchez said of playing predominately in the the post on Friday night. “I felt like on the boards this game is where I was needed, to go and get the rebounds.”
Kaylyn Nakaji was the only other Huntington Beach player to score after intermission. When she drilled a corner 3-pointer with 2:42 to play in the fourth, Huntington Beach grabbed a 36-34 edge, the 11th lead change of the second half.
Wade-Sanchez and Nakaji finished a combined 13 for 45 from the field. The Oilers shot 28 percent (14 of 50) as a team.
Nakaji’s jumper wound up being Huntington Beach’s final field goal of the game. A pair of three throws by Wade-Sanchez with 1:02 to play put the Oilers ahead, 38-36.
Malazarte scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“The best kid beat us when it mattered,” McClurg acknowledged.
Padilla led the Knights with 15 points.
“I don’t remember any stats from high school, I just remember moments and feelings,” Bishop Montgomery coach Noelle Quinn said, referencing the team’s 2-of-19 effort on 3-pointers. “This is a moment they’re never going to forget. These moments are the ones that stick with you.”
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