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BILL ALKOFER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Troy players celebrate their victory over Sierra Canyon in the CIF-SS Open Division quarterfinals on Wednesday. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG)

Troy dodges bullet, advances to Open semifinals

STAFF WRITER

With its All-American guard hobbled by a cramp, watching from the sideline, and Sierra Canyon’s Amanda Olinger stepping to the free-throw line with 2.2 second left in regulation of a tied game, Troy’s quest for the semifinals appeared doomed.

But after the pair of freebies clanked off the back rim, the Warriors cashed in on their newfound life and rode the wave of momentum into Saturday’s final four.

Troy seniors Naomi Hunt and Kianna Smith each scored a game-high 24 points and the Warriors held the fourth-seeded Trailblazers to a single point in the overtime session in pulling off a 68-56 upset Wednesday night at Troy High in the CIF-SS Open Division quarterfinals.

The Warriors (20-6) will host top-seeded Long Beach Poly (23-3), which knocked them out of the Open Division playoffs a season ago, on Saturday night.

Sierra Canyon (21-5) moves to the division’s consolation bracket.

“It was such a great team win, and that’s what we’ve been working at the whole year and that’s what has made us so successful,” Troy coach Roger Anderson said. “You’ve got two freshmen (Aaliyah and Anaiyah Tu’ua) doing all the dirty work. A point guard (Hope Kakihara) forcing the ball up-court and killing herself. You’ve got Kianna cramping up, and you’ve got Naomi hitting shots.”

Despite Smith’s 2-for-8 shooting from the field in the first half, the Warriors only trailed by two points at the break. After her first shot of the third quarter also rimmed out, the senior star would not miss again. Smith buried all eight of her field goal attempts to finish with 20 second-half points.

“Kianna is a gamer,” Anderson said. “When the big moment comes, Kianna is there. You could see her heart and desire. And to her credit, Naomi was right there backing her up on everything. Naomi was a rock and did a lot of hard battling inside for us.”

With the score tied at 55-55 with 13 seconds left, a leg cramp forced Smith to the sideline for Sierra Canyon’s final possession.

After grabbing a blocked shot, Olinger was fouled on the put back attempt with 2.2 seconds left, but failed to convert both attempts, sending the game to overtime.

Hunt scored five points in the extra session, Michelle Lee nailed a 3-pointer from the wing, Aaliyah Tu’ua added a layup, and even with the cramp, Smith came back in late to bury a deep 3-ball to seal the victory.

“This is amazing,” Hunt said after the game. “We just knew it was now or never. We all knew we could do it. Even with Kianna out, we believed in ourselves and knew we could do it.”

In Division 1AA:

Canyon of Canyon Country 49, Sonora 43: Cowboys center Rachel Bowers scored 16 points and grabbed 22 rebounds while the Raiders notched only five fourth quarter points as Canyon (20-9) advanced to the semifinals against St. Anthony. Sonora finished the season at 21-8 overall.

Valencia of Valencia 73, Los Alamitos 53: The Vikings (25-5) outscored the Griffins, 25-11, in the fourth quarter to pull away and claim a spot in the semifinals where they will play Oaks Christian. Los Alamitos finished the year with a 21-7 record.

In Division 2A:

Glendale 50, Aliso Niguel 49: Nitros senior center Sylvia Vartazarian broke a 49-49 stalemate with 2.9 seconds left in regulation, hitting one of two free throws to cap Glendale’s (19-11) upset victory over the second-seeded Wolverines. Madelyn Brauer led Aliso Niguel (19-7) with 13 points. Charlotte Vurgun finished with 11. 

In Division 3AA:

Bishop Amat 47, San Clemente 30: The Lancers (20-7) jumped out to a 17-1 lead after the first quarter and never looked back as it bounced the Tritons (15-13) in the quarterfinals. Bishop Amat will play Thousand Oaks in the semis.

In Division 4AA: 

Oxford Academy 49, Laguna Hills 42: Sophomore center Austyn Masuna dominated down low, scoring 23 points and pulling down 22 rebounds to lead the Patriots (21-5) past the Hawks (15-12). Kayla Chang finished with 22 points for Laguna Hills. Oxford Academy will play Valley Christian of Cerritos (20-8) in Saturday’s semifinals.

In Division 5AA: 

Crean Lutheran 53, University Prep 42: Freshman guard Shannon O’Malley notched a team-high 17 points as the Saints (17-1) punched their ticket to the semifinals against Westridge of Pasadena (14-9).

Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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