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Playoff notes: Sage Hill freshman kept her cool

STAFF WRITER

When Heather Park let the shot fly – a straightaway 3-pointer - with time expiring, Sage Hill coach Kerwin Walters’ eyes darted toward the nearest referee.

“I immediately looked for his signal,” Walters explained. “If the arms don’t go up to signal a three, it’s just a tie ball game if it goes in. And did she even get the shot off?”

The Lightning’s freshman point guard did beat the buzzer, and by banking home the deep 3-pointer, she gave Sage Hill a 48-47 victory over La Salle of Pasadena on Thursday night in the first round of the Division 4A playoffs.

Park led the Lightning with 20 points in her first postseason game, which also marked Sage Hill’s first playoff victory since 2008.

After La Salle sank a pair of free throws to take a 47-45 lead with five seconds left in the game, Sage Hill was forced to travel the length of the quarter for a final shot.

“We practice that situation all the time,” Walters said. “For a freshman guard, Heather is very savvy. She dashed to the middle of the court, left her defenders behind and calmly put up the shot on one foot.”

The Lightning (18-6) travel to play fourth-seeded Brentwood (21-8) on Saturday in a second-round game.

“Our job is to keep pace,” Walters added, “and if we’re in a close game at the end, we now know we can control and dictate the outcome. It’s going to be a tough fight.”

LOOKING SHARP

There have been three instances this season of a county player scoring 40-plus points in a game. Foothill’s Sydney Sharp has accounted for two of them.

The sharpshooting wing scored her team’s first 15 points Thursday night, drained five first-half 3-pointers and finished with 43 points in a 78-66 first-round win over Edison in Division 2AA.

“It’s a lot of fun and it really gets everyone going,” Sharp said of the team’s lights-out shooting against the Chargers. “(Edison) is a big team, so we wanted to speed them up. I think that’s what got us some open looks.”

Sharp, who posted a county-high 48-point effort against Long Beach Wilson earlier in the season, has been a mainstay atop the county’s scoring leaders.

The other player to score 40 points this season is Rosary’s Becky Obinma, who reached 40 in a December contest.

DEFENSE IS KING

Orange Lutheran and Sonora were awarded the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds in Division 3AA, in large part because of their defensive prowess.

Both schools showcased that lockdown capability in first-round wins. The Lancers held Santa Ana Valley to 17 points and did not allow a point in the second quarter. The Raiders limited Gahr to 15 points in their opener.

In Division 4AA, Laguna Beach took an 18-0 lead into the second quarter against La Puente. Breakers senior guard Jackie Cenan scored as many points - 28 - as the entire Warriors team did in the game.

Whittier Christian had the stingiest defense in the county. The Heralds overwhelmed Nuview Bridge of Nuevo, 51-13.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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