Brea Olinda edges LB Poly in final seconds

Brea Olinda routed Edison, 72-49, in the quarterfinals, but it wouldn’t be as easy this time. The Wildcats edged out Long Beach Poly, 49-43, in the CIF-SS semifinals, in a game that came down to the final seconds.

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a hard game, and that it wasn’t going to be easy,” Brea Olinda coach Kim Cram-Torres said. “Poly is so good and so tough, and that has been my number one concern, handling their toughness.”

Brea Olinda and Long Beach Poly were well-matched statistically and stayed on each other’s heels defensively. The Jackrabbits ended the first quarter up 9-7 after two lead changes and two ties.

But Brea Olinda answered and led 26-20 going into the half. They shot 41.7 percent from the floor and nailed 4-of-10 three-point shots, while the Jackrabbits shot 33.3 percent, and Justyce Dawson hit Poly’s sole three-pointer of the first half.

It was a physical second half as Brea Olinda muscled up against the larger Jackrabbits and increased their lead to nine, which would turn out to be the largest lead of the game. They entered the fourth quarter leading 41-32, shooting 46.9 percent (9.8 percent better than the Jackrabbits).

But Poly chipped away at the Wildcats’ lead, out-scoring Brea Olinda by four in the fourth quarter to bring the score within two with 53.8 seconds left.

The Wildcats called a timeout with 14.1 seconds left. Brea Olinda’s Jasmine Saucer hit both her free throws to put the Wildcats up four. Kietra Wallace came in with a clutch steal when it looked like Jackrabbit’s leading scorer Destiny King, who had a game-high 20 points, was about to it take in for a three.

“I’m thinking grab it with two hands,” said Cram-Torres of the final, heart-stopping moments. “Be fundamental and let’s just make it sure it’s our ball.”

Instead, Wallace brought it in for a layup to end the game.

“The biggest challenge is to constantly keep making defensive stops,” Long Beach Poly head coach Carl Buggs said. “They run a motion offense,
they continually cut hard and if you relax a little bit on defense, then
can get you in the back door. If you give them space, they can score.
They did a good job of doing that so you have to give them credit.”

The Wildcats face Mater Dei in the CIF-SS finals after the Monarchs beat Santiago 71-32 in the semifinals.