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O.C. finalists share a painful past

STAFF WRITER

The cast of characters happens to be the same. The idea now is to alter the ending.

When the girls basketball finals get underway Friday night, eight county schools will have the opportunity to walk away with a CIF championship. As of today, seven teams – Mater Dei, El Dorado, Santa Margarita, Orange Lutheran, JSerra, Fairmont Prep, Orangewood Academy – have already claimed their spot in the finals.

With the exception of Orange Lutheran, all of those schools are making return trips to the championship round. Orange County went 1-5 in CIF-SS finals a season ago, with Santa Margarita being the lone squad that stepped off the court victorious in 2014.

In two circumstances this year, we’ll see the exact same two teams square off in the finals. In Division 4AA, JSerra will once again play Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, which the Lions lost to, 46-43, last March. In Division 5AA, Orangewood Academy will face off with Ribet Academy of Los Angeles, the team it lost to by 20 points last year.

“I don’t know if it’s more of a revenge factor as much as it is wanting to win a CIF title,” Orangewood coach Leslie Aragon explained. “You put so much time and effort into it all in the spring and summer months, and it hurts when you come up a little short.

“There’s a couple girls on our team that are happy we’re playing Ribet Academy. To them, Ribet is the team that took away what we wanted most.”

Retribution seems to be the common thread headed into championship weekend, as Mater Dei, El Dorado and Fairmont Prep all remember the feeling of walking off the court as runners-up a season ago.

In the Monarchs’ case, they’ll have to knock off the one team that has beaten them this season, Chaminade of West Hills. The Eagles topped Mater Dei, 60-59, in November at the Palisades Beach Invitational

“We definitely think about that, but this is a brand new team,” Mater Dei senior Katie Lou Samuelson said after the team’s semifinal win this past Friday. “We’re different than we were at the start of the season. We’re just going to go into this game like we would any other, playing how we want to play and not really focusing on the other opponent.”

TROY VS. FOOTHILL MOVED

Originally scheduled to be played tonight, the Troy-Foothill semifinal in Division 1A has been rescheduled to Wednesday at Foothill with a 7 p.m. tip-off.

With the Knights boys team playing on the road tonight, the school sought a change to allow the student body, faculty and staff an opportunity to go to both semifinal games as opposed to just one.

Look for “The Dungeon,” one of the area’s best student sections, to be out in full force for both the boys and girls games this week.

FINALS SCHEDULE

All CIF-SS finals will be held at one of three locations Friday or Saturday.

To this point, game times have been released for Friday night’s action at Godinez High. Fairmont Prep will open the evening (5 p.m.) against St. Paul of Santa Fe springs. JSerra and Bishop Montgomery will play at 7 p.m., and Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita close the night (9 p.m.).

While official start times have yet to be released, Mater Dei, El Dorado and the Troy-Foothill winner will play at Azusa Pacific University on Saturday.

Orangewood Academy is also awaiting a start time for its game on Saturday, but the Spartans will be playing Ribet at Godinez High.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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