Segerstrom guard Natalie Perales, center, has the ball stolen by Westminster's Selena Iriarte, left, and Maggie Dumphy (20) during a Golden West League game Tuesday night.

Westminster's luck changes for the better


SANTA ANA - Westminster had reason to be a little nervous heading into its Golden West League girls basketball showdown against Segerstrom on Tuesday night at Segerstrom High.

The Lions have had a string of bad luck in tight games with the Jaguars, which made Westminster's 56-38 victory even more satisfying.

The victory avenged Westminster's 49-48 defeat to Segerstrom in the championship game of the Corona del Mar Tournament on Dec. 1.

"Our kids thought we didn't play very well that game," Westminster coach Dick Katz said. "They (Segerstrom) played very well, and we lost it in the last second on an offensive rebound.

"We lost twice to them this summer in the last second in both games, so the kids were kind of a little tight to start the game. But I thought we settled in. The defense is what did it for us. We played great D I thought."

The final score was not indicative of how close the game was most of the way.

Westminster jumped out to a 10-3 lead, but the Jaguars battled back with an 11-2 run and took a 13-12 lead after A.J. Dizon's baseline jumper with 1:36 remaining in the opening quarter. Westminster's Chyann Pendergrass responded with a long 3-pointer to give the Lions a 15-12 lead heading into the second quarter.

The Lions and Jaguars went back and forth for most of the second quarter until Vicki Vo made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the half to give the Lions a 29-22 lead at intermission.

Segerstrom (17-4, 4-1), ranked No. 5 in Division 2A, continued to battle and closed the game to 34-32 before the Lions closed the third quarter with a 9-0 run. Azusa Pacific-bound Maggie Dumphy's offensive put-back at the buzzer gave Westminster a 43-32 lead heading into the final quarter.

Westminster's defense had tightened up in the second half and it got even tighter in the fourth quarter, making it impossible for the Jaguars to put a dent into the Lions' lead. Segerstrom's Kayla Stephens and Natalie Perales came into the game averaging 17.9 and 16.7 points per game, respectively, and the Lions limited Stephens to 10 points and Perales to five points.

"In the first quarter we were just running around," Katz said. "But I thought from the second, third and fourth quarter on we really did a great job on D and that's our game. We've been playing great D all year.

"I thought we settled down a little bit. We were tight in the first half a lot. We missed layups, free throws and turned the ball over, but our defense kept us in. That's what we've been doing all year."

Westminster (18-3, 5-0), ranked No. 11 in Division 1A, got important contributions from several players. Dumphy had 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Pendergrass had 12 points and three assists, and Vo made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.

"If you look at our stats, it's not one player," Katz said. "We've got five or six girls doing the scoring for us and playing different roles, so we are interchangeable. We've had a great year and I'm very pleased for our kids. They've been working their butts off to get here. It's nice. It really is nice."

Westminster's reserves came through as well. Selene Iriarte came off the bench with seven points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals, and Kathleen Lopp had six points and six rebounds.

"Well, Selene Iriarte comes off the bench and gives us a spark every single game and then our other big girl, Kathleen Lopp, a lot of people don't realize how good she is," Katz said. "We're pretty good. We're not bad."

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