Road to the CIF Playoffs: Girls Basketball
Coming off a Division 2AA CIF Championship last February, the girls basketball team was looking to make some noise in Division 1, with much of that team returning this season.
”A lot of the core group that played a lot of minutes for us last year is coming back…coming back with experience and some pressure situations under their belts,” said head coach Lindsay Charity.
That experience paid off as the Lancers got into the CIF Playoffs this February.
Tournaments dominated the non-league schedule. OLu started the season on a high note winning the Oxford Academy Patriot Tournament, going 4-0, and beating Fairmont Prep in the finals.
At the Troy Tournament, OLu went 3-1 with wins over Esperanza and San Clemente and placed 3rd. They then traveled to the Arizona Tournament of Champions and 3-1 and placed 5th.
Heading into Trinity League play OLu was 13-3. A 4-game winning streak in mid-January, with wins over Aliso Niguel, St.Paul’s, JSerra, and Santa Margarita, pushed the Lancers record to 18-5.
The Lancers finished 3rd in the Trinity League at 4-4 and a 19-7 overall record. OLu was drawn into the CIF Division 1 Playoffs and would face Brea Olinda in the first round.
CIF Round 1 vs. Brea Olinda
On the road against a quality opponent, the girls basketball team came together and ground out a team victory 49-40 over Brea Olinda in the first round of the Division 1 CIF Playoffs.
Down three at the end of the first and up two at halftime, OLu turned it on in the 3rd. The Lancers outscored the Wildcats by 8 to extend the lead to 10 going to the final frame, which was enough to secure the win.
Madi Bogan led the Lancers with 14 points, Shea Joko had 13, and Kelly Garrity had 10.
OLu would return home to play Sonora in round 2.
CIF Round 2 vs. Sonora
After being up by as many as 13 points in the 3rd, the OLu girls basketball team fought through adversity when Sonora closed the gap to 6 to eventually finish off the Raiders 69-54.
The Lancers used a balanced attack, with four starters scoring in double figures, led by Madi Bogan's 17 points. Shea Joko had 15, including four 3-pointers. Heaven Johnson had 12, Taliyah McFerson chipped in 10, and Kelly Garrity had 9. Sheridan Kennedy also contributed 7 points off the bench.
OLu led by ten at halftime and had extended that lead to 13 in the 3rd before Sonora trimmed the gap to 6. The Lancers used a 20-point 4th quarter to secure the victory.
In the quarterfinals, the Lancers would host Harvard Westlake.
CIF Quarterfinal vs. Harvard Westlake
Heading into Wednesday night's CIF quarterfinal with Harvard Westlake, the OLu girls basketball team had not lost a southern section playoff game in 2 years, going 7-0 in that span. Make that 8.
The Lancers defeated a very talented Harvard Westlake team 65-60 to advance to their second straight semifinals appearance.
Much like their second-round matchup against Sonora, the Lancers opened up an early lead going up by six at the end of the first. But the gap was closed to 2 at the break. The game remained tight all second half, but every time Harvard Westlake got close, the Lancers made vital shots to propel themselves to victory.
OLu will host Chaminade in the Division 1 semifinal on Saturday, February 18 at 6 pm.
CIF Semifinals vs Chaminade
Trailing by three at the half, the girls basketball team used their grit and experience to dominate Chaminade in the second half of the Division 1 CIF Semifinal en route to a 78-68 win to advance to the championship game for the 2nd straight season.
OLu trailed by as many 8 points in the 2nd quarter but cut the deficit to 3 at the half. Out of the break, they were on fire. OLu hit six second-half 3-pointers, including three by Princess Cassell, who finished with 19 points, including five triples.
The Lancers led by four going to the fourth and used hot free throw shooting in the final frame to finish off Chaminade. OLu was 13 for 19 at the line in the final quarter, including seven free throws made by Madi Bogan, who finished with 16 points. For the game, the Lancers went 21 for 28 from the stripe.
Taliyah McFerson had 13 points, including 7 for seven at the stripe, and Kelly Garrity had 10.
OLu will face Marlborugh in the CIF Division 1 final that will be held at the Honda Center on Saturday, February 25 at 1 pm.
Related: Orange Lutheran surges past Chaminade to grab spot in girls basketball Division 1 final
CIF Finals vs Marlborough
For the 2nd straight season and 7th time overall, the girls basketball team is CIF-SS Champions after beating Marlborough 63-45 on Saturday afternoon.
OLu used all their playoff experience to outduel the Mustangs. After a tied first quarter, it was all OLu using their defense to spark the offense. The Lancers outscored Marlborough by 18 points the rest of the way, increasing their lead every step of the way.
Junior Shea Joko led OLu with 17 points, including four triples. Princess Cassell and Sheridan Kennedy each had 10 points off the bench, joining Joko in double digits. On the glass, OLu was dominant, especially offensively, racking up 19 offensive boards and outrebounding the Mustangs by 10. Cassell had ten rebounds as well.
OLu is now 10-0 in their past 10 CIF-SS playoff games. The 7 CIF Titles are the most of any program in OLu Athletics history.
Related: Orange Lutheran girls basketball claims CIF-SS Division 1 title with win over Marlborough
The girls now advance to the CIF State Regional next week, with the draw being conducted on Sunday afternoon.
CIF State Round 1 vs Westchester
The OLu girls basketball team used a 4th quarter rally to come back from a 6-point deficit to beat Westchester on Tuesday night 62-59.
The Lancers trailed from the outset, down eight after a quarter and nine at halftime. They closed the gap to 6 and headed to the final frame, where OLu's championship experience shined.
They continued to close the gap and finally took the lead when junior guard Shea Joko hit a deep 3 with just under a minute remaining to go up by 1. After two made free throws and a Westchester miss, the Lancers secured victory.
Joko scored 18 points, with 12 coming in the final stanza. Taliyah McFerson was dominant, scoring 20 points.
The Lancers will return home for a Thursday night rematch against Chaminade, whom they beat in the Southern Section semifinals.
Related: Orange Lutheran girls basketball rallies past Westchester in CIF Southern California Regional playoffs
CIF State Round 2 vs Chaminade
For the second time in two weeks, OLu girls basketball defeated Chaminade. This time, it earned the Lancers a spot in the CIF State Regional Quarterfinals.
Having beat Chaminade on February 18 in the CIF-SS semifinals, Thursday’s matchup was a tightly contested game that was tied 15-15 after the first quarter and 29-29 at the half.
The Lancers trailed by one point at the close of the third quarter but finished strong behind senior Heaven Johnson’s seven points in the fourth quarter to secure the 61-58 win.
Junior Taliyah McFerson had 17 points on the night. Johnson had nine points, and junior Shea Joko scored 11 points.
The Lancers have now won eight in a row and look to make it nine when they play in the State Quarterfinal game on Saturday. They'll play against San Diego's Del Norte High School on their court at 7 pm.
CIF State Quarterfinal vs Del Norte
OLu girls basketball concluded their season with a 58-67 loss to Del Norte (San Diego) in the CIF State Regional Semifinals. The loss halted an eight-game win streak dating back to February 1.
Down 11 points at halftime, OLu made a valiant push with a 21-point third quarter to bring the Lancers within two points of the Nighthawks, 47-49. But Del Norte pulled away in the fourth frame to seal the win.
Junior Princess Cassell had 15 points on the night, including three 3-pointers and eight points in the third quarter alone. Fellow junior Shea Joko also had 15 points and three triples. Senior Heaven Johnson had 10 points.
While their season may be over, the Lancers had a tremendous year, becoming back-to-back CIF-SS Champions on February 25 with a win over Marlborough, 63-45. The victory also stands as the seventh title for the program, the most in OLu Athletics history.
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