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Salottolo pushes Orange Lutheran into title game
FOUNTAIN VALLEY – Behind guard Jessica Salottolo's season-high 20 points, No. 4 Orange Lutheran led from start to finish in a 54-44 victory over Fountain Valley in the semifinals of the Lady Barons Hoop Challenge on Friday night at Fountain Valley High.
Orange Lutheran (5-0) will play Huntington Beach (3-0) in the tournament championship Saturday at 2 p.m.
"The reason why tonight's game was so tough is because Fountain Valley is a really good team," Lancers coach Tom Howard said. "They battled like crazy. It was a great fight, a great high school basketball competition from two tough teams who really gave it their all."
Salottolo opened the game by draining a 3-pointer from the corner, and it was a sign of things to come from the senior guard. She ended the quarter with another 3-pointer that gave the Lancers a 14-11 lead headed into the second.
The Barons (2-1) tied the score four times in the opening quarter but wasn't able to get even again after Salottolo's 3-pointer that ended the first.
The senior guard opened the second quarter with two more buckets, giving her seven consecutive points and extending the Lancers lead to 18-11.
"We were fortunate to get a lead early," Howard said. "It's always nice to play with a cushion, and we needed it because Fountain Valley kept battling all night."
The Lancers maintained a seven-point lead at the half and led by no less than six points throughout the third quarter.
Leading 36-30 with less than a minute left in the third, Orange Lutheran went on a quick 6-0 run to take a 42-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Jasmine Matar and the Barons battled back, opening the final quarter with a quick 7-1 run, cutting the deficit back to six points. Matar completed a 3-point play, while Danielle Tran and Marisa Teng added jumpers to make the score 43-37.
Point guard Ari Jacobsen hit a deep 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four points with 3 minutes left.
But it was Salottolo who responded by scoring four consecutive points for the Lancers that put the game out of reach.
"This is a team that's really growing together and coming together, and I think that was evident tonight," Howard said. "They had to really just find a way to tough it out and they have been doing that all year."
Matar led Fountain Valley with 15 points.