The Maranatha High School varsity girls’ basketball team was in a back-and-forth affair against visiting Menifee Paloma Valley in a CIF Southern Section Division 4AA second-round playoff game last Friday.
With a slim lead, Minutemen head coach Gamal Smalley knew what to say to his players during a timeout in the fourth quarter.
“I told the girls in the timeout that I had to go back to my bag of tricks,” said Smalley, who took out a quarter and held it high to show every player. “We’re just a few minutes away from getting to the quarterfinals.”
It certainly motivated a young Maranatha squad as it played stingy defense and held on to edge the Wildcats, 50-47.
“It was just two really good teams playing against each other,” said Maranatha junior Patil Yaacoubian, who finished with six points, six rebounds and four assists. “We had more heart and it felt like we wanted it more.”
The spark for the Minutemen (19-7 overall record) was reserve guard Mireille Minassian, who buried three clutch shots from beyond the arc in the second half. The biggest shot came in the fourth quarter when the junior came through with a 3-pointer from the wing that gave her team a 46-44 lead with 2:01 remaining in the game. Maranatha didn’t relinquish that lead by converting free throws and pressuring Paloma Valley’s offense.
“Hitting shots was really important tonight,” said Minassian, who finished with 10 points off the bench. “We really needed to hit these shots in order to beat a team like this. Everyone did their job and we somehow got the win.”
Mya Pierfax kept the Wildcats (19-10 overall) in the game by scoring 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, but Maranatha managed to keep her teammates at bay. The rest of the squad shot 27% from the field.
“[Pierfax] is just so awesome,” Smalley said. “She’s a one-man wrecking crew. We tried to face guard her, and we had a little bit of success. That helped us.”
Merci Turner led Maranatha with 12 points and eight rebounds and Emily Jordan chipped in seven points. Erica De Guzman, one of two seniors on the team, had five points and five rebounds, Naomi Turner finished with four points and Mia Chang contributed two points.
“I’m so happy they stepped up,” Yaacoubian said of her teammates. “I knew they could do it, and I knew they were going to play defense on me like that. We had to get everyone involved.”
The Minutemen, who defeated Coachella Valley of Thermal in the first round, traveled to Hesperia to face Sultana in a quarterfinal contest on Wednesday.
Flintridge Prep 59
Arroyo Valley 47
The Rebels jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 59-47 victory over host San Bernardino Arroyo Valley in a CIF Southern Section Division 2A second-round game last Saturday.
Kaitlyn Chen led the charge with 25 points and Maddy Manning added 15. Sofia Gonzalez chipped in 10 points, Alex Kyriakakis netted four points, Andie Kim finished with three points and Ashlyn Zhang contributed two.
Flintridge Prep (23-2 overall), which captured the Prep League championship, defeated Thousand Oaks, 56-34, in the first round of the playoffs. The Rebels hosted Chino Hills in a quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday.
Riverside Patriot 55
The Panthers were unable to keep up with host Riverside Patriot in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs, falling 55-37 last week.
Head coach Kim Weber guided Polytechnic to a 13-10 record and a fourth-place finish in the Prep League standings.
City of Industry Workman 53
Flintridge Sacred Heart 43
The Tologs’ season came to an end in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs last week as the team fell to City of Industry Workman, 53-43.
Head coach Ty Buxman guided Flintridge Sacred Heart to a solid season with an 18-9 record and a 4-4 mark in Sunshine League play.