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Orangewood Academy girls beat rival for title
SANTA ANA – The cheer rang from the large Orangewood Academy faithful during the awards ceremony for the Spartans’ boys team Saturday night.
“Girls, you’re next!”
The Spartans girls followed their school’s victorious boys basketball team by taking on postseason rival Ribet of Los Angeles in the CIF-SS Division 5AA final at Godinez.
Behind an inside-and-outside attack and some clutch play in the fourth, the Spartans girls held their own title celebration after beating the Fighting Frogs, 51-46.
Freshman center Jaqueline Saucedo finished with a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds and Caroline Montes added 10 points and eight points for Orangewood, which claimed its second CIF title and likely secured a lofty seed for the SoCal regionals.
"We knew that this was going to be the tough one," Orangewood girls coach Leslie Aragon said.
"The boys were pretty favored. But Ribet is an incredible team, and those two girls -- Celine Bolton-Ford and Jhazmin Joson. Celine is a Division 1 player and (Joson), I'm not sure that she's not a Division 1 player either. But our girls really stuck with what they were doing."
Ribet defeated the Spartans, 47-27, in last season’s Division 5A final behind a dominant effort by Bolton-Ford, a versatile 6-foot-2 player who can play guard or center. But Orangewood held the junior to six points and 11 rebounds in the encore. Bolton-Ford did block five shots.
"This is our second year playing against Ribet Academy," Montes said. "We're so happy to win. We wanted it so bad. That we won is amazing."
The Spartans' inside trio of Saucedo, fellow freshman Estafania Giner and Elaine Rivero combined for 28 points and 17 rebounds.
Orangewood led by 13 points early in the early second quarter but Ribet stayed afloat and forced the Spartans to make key plays late to secure the title.
Ribet led, 42-41, with just under five minutes left when Saucedo sank a pair of free fouls for the go-ahead points after an aggressive move against Bolton-Ford. Saucedo later sank a baseline jumper with just under three minutes for a 45-42 advantage and guard Yvonne Ornelas added a steal and layup with 2:34 left for a crushing basket.
Montes helped seal the title by sinking four foul shots in the final 1:47 and grabbing two key rebounds. Orangewood made 7 of 10 free throws in the second half while Ribet went 0 for 3 in the second half and finished 3 of 12.
"It looked like they ran out of gas a little bit," Aragon said of Ribet. "They only have six girls. We only played six also. ... You don't take anything for granted. We're blessed."
Saucedo's big night game arrived as leading-scorer Giner battled foul trouble.
"We are like family," Saucedo said. "We don't give up."