Down by three and with the game and season ticking away, Lompoc’s Danielle Morgan grabbed a loose rebound, engaged contact underneath the hoop and drew applause from the Braves’ student section and LHS bench – thinking a foul was called and Morgan would shoot two from the stripe.
Except the officiating crew called this CIF Southern Section Division 2A quarterfinal game off and said there was no foul, drawing raucous boos from the home crowd and ending a thrilling 52-49 Los Angeles Marlborough victory over the Braves on Wednesday night at Bryan Ayer Court, eliminating the Braves from postseason play.
Morgan kept her attack mode in sync throughout the whole night, as she went from 3-point shooter to a player showing no fear with attacking the paint. She finished with 21 points and scored five of Lompoc’s final fourth-quarter points.
Her mother and head coach Claudia Terrones, though, said she felt a foul call should’ve been made in the end, as she watched her player get tangled up as the final three seconds evaporated.
“I honestly felt that Danielle got fouled. There was time on the clock and they called the foul and the buzzer went off,” Terrones said. “There had to have been at least one or two seconds, but they said there was no time and it didn’t matter if she shot the two free throws or not. But too me, it does matter.”
Yet, Terrones said that her team should’ve never placed themselves in a position where they had to play from behind then turn it into a game where one play was the difference. Plus, the longtime Braves coach gave her respect toward a Mustang team that came into Bryan Ayer Court undersized compared to LHS.
“We should’ve never been in that situation to begin with,” Terrones said. “We had a really good season. We played some quality teams and this team (Marlborough) is really good and I hope they go the whole way, honestly. We thank the fans for coming out and supporting us. It was a great ride. All we can think about now is graduating and getting into next season.”
Marlborough, an independent all-girls school located in the Hancock Park neighborhood of L.A, went with a run-and-gun, fast paced approach to start things off – a staple of LHS girls basketball under Terrones. The Mustangs sprinted past LHS’s top defenders and scored six early transition points in the first.
Their biggest play in the opening quarter, however, was toward the end of the first when Vanessa De Jesus leaped to the air from half court, unleashed the long ball 3-point attempt and the ball swished through the net, sending the MHS sidelines into an excited euphoria.
The Mustangs’ biggest lead was 15 points in the fourth, as their speed and long range shooting helped give them a cushion.
That was until Morgan and Cyenna Garrett led the scoring comeback stampede. Both Braves found their way to the paint and got the tough, contested points to turn the large deficit into a two-point margin.
Marlborough ended the Braves season at 20-6 overall. Mustang head coach Chris Rodgers said his team is used to the final second nail-biters.
“I told the girls to finish, play smart and don’t do anything stupid. We’ve been in these situations before. Some went our way and some didn’t,” Rodgers said. “So I was hoping that tonight we learned from it and they did.”
He also addressed what he saw in the final seconds.
“From what I saw, we were trying to play defense and the shot went up. We were trying to box it up and try to grab the best rebound we could,” Rodgers explained. “Unfortunately we didn’t. But it was the ref’s call whether or not if it was on time or not. In my mind, though, we’re up three and she might shoot two. Hopefully we can get the rebound if there was more time on the clock.”
After the jeers ended, Terrones got together with her team for one last time…and pointed toward the strong play and leadership of her three graduating seniors Cheyenne Marmolejo and the Garrett twins Cyenna and Chavon.
“These three girls right here have set the steps for the future. If there’s any girls this team can learn from, it’s these girls,” Terrones said. “They gave four years of their life to me. They were the first at practice and they’ve worked hard. They’re phenomenal scholar athletes."