By Nathan Cambridge
It was the appointed hour for the tipoff of the Burroughs High girls’ basketball playoff semifinal hosting Cajon High of San Bernardino. The teams were warmed up and ready. However, there were no officials. It seems the CIF had neglected to assign any.
As a set of neutral officials were summoned, the teams casually kept warm before an old-fashioned, schoolyard game of H-O-R-S-E broke out between the two schools’ head coaches.
After a 90-minute delay, the referees arrived and the contest got underway.
Burroughs started strong before being overcome by the speed of the visiting Cowboys on both ends of the court. The result was a 69-59 Cajon victory in the CIF Southern Section Division IIAA semifinal Saturday night on the Bears’ home court.
“At all positions [Cajon] had good players and they’re fast,” Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game.”
Throughout the contest, Cajon (16-0 record) played at breakneck speed. The Cowboys consistently harassed the Bears on defense getting their hands into passing lanes and hounding the ball handlers repeatedly resulting in steals that were often swiftly converted into points. On offense, Cajon looked to push the ball up the court, following makes and misses, attacking the rim with almost reckless abandon.
“We played a tough schedule trying to prepare for a team like this,” Oganyan said. “That’s why we probably handled it the best we had all year, but we needed a couple of breaks.”
Burroughs (14-9 record) came out strong in the first quarter, building a lead as big as five points on three different occasions. The Bears hit four three-pointers in the frame, with three from Faith Boulanger, and held a 16-14 advantage after the first quarter.
It was the second quarter where Cajon seized control. The Bears held their final lead, at 23-22, following a basket from beyond the arc by Kayla Wrobel.
However, after the Cowboys scored the next seven points, they never trailed again. The visitors outscored the hosts 24-9 in the quarter.
Burroughs found some traction after the break and ended up winning the second half 34-31. The Bears began to draw fouls on Cajon, slowing the pace and getting to the line. However, Burroughs struggled from the charity stripe, going 10 of 24.
Burroughs started the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four. Sydney Martin made a layup and Boulanger blocked a shot at the other end of the floor.
After Wrobel made a foul shot, Dyani Del Castillo scored on a putback. Martin then finished the run with a pair of free throws to make the score 51-47, but that would be as close as the hosts would get.
Down the stretch Cajon pushed its advantage back to as high as 12 before a hoop by Burroughs’ Isabella Roderick in the waning seconds set the final margin.
Boulanger finished with a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. Wrobel chipped in 14 points and grabbed nine boards. Roderick had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds, Del Castillo had seven points and six rebounds, and Ivana Razov and Martin had five and four points, respectively.
Cajon was paced by the duo of freshman Mlykelle Richards, who had 24 points, and Ayana Campbell, who had 19.
The season is likely not over for Burroughs, as the Bears have a good chance to earn a berth in the state regional playoffs, with the pairings being announced tomorrow by the CIF State Office. First-round games will be Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, we played. We wanted to win, but it didn’t go our way,” Wrobel said. “It doesn’t always go our way. Definitely a tough loss, but we are going to go to state. We are not done yet. We’re going to keep playing.”