Huntington Beach pulls away late, captures championship


COSTA MESA - Huntington Beach's girls basketball team secured its first tournament championship of the season Saturday night by beating San Ramon Valley, 56-34, in the final of the Costa Mesa Winter Classic.

Coach Russell McClurg was proud of his team, which has only two seniors on the roster.

“For us, as probably the youngest team in the Sunset League, it’s a great accomplishment for a team heading in the right direction,” McClurg said.

The Oilers (10-3) were led by tournament MVP Jill Nikaso who had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

“Jill came up huge tonight. She had the mismatch a lot of times and she did a really nice job exploiting her matchup and took advantage of that,” McClurg said.

Stephanie Louie shook off a less-than-stellar first half to score 14 of her game-high 16 points in the second half.

“Louie is just a very good, clutch shooter. If she’s open, she’s most likely going to hit as she’s become one of our best 3-point shooters,” McClurg said.

Nikaso was a force on the offensive glass all night, and she created many second-chance opportunities for Huntington Beach.

The Oilers opened the game on an 8-0 run and forced the Wolves to regroup with a timeout. In the second quarter, San Ramon Valley cut the deficit to four after Natale Cristiani’s 3-pointer, but Huntington Beach took a 23-16 lead into the break.

The second half began with the Oilers scoring five quick points, which forced another timeout by San Ramon Valley. Once the shots began to fall for the Oilers they created a 24-point cushion and then comfortably cruised to victory.

Huntington Beach will open Sunset League play Thursday when it plays host to Fountain Valley.

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