The most successful girls basketball season in Cabrillo High School history is over.
Point guard Kayli Arii put Fullerton Sunny Hills ahead for good with a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left in overtime, Jessica Barrow scored the last points of the game with a bucket with 18 seconds left, and the Lancers edged the Conquistadores 41-38 in the Southern California Regional quarterfinals of the CIF Division III State Tournament in a packed Cabrillo gym Saturday night.
Alexa McCune's 3-point try with three seconds left bounced off the back rim, and Barrow grabbed the rebound to seal it. Valerie Monzon put Cabrillo ahead 38-36 on a 3-pointer with 2:07 left in overtime before Arii hit the eventual game-winner.
"Our point guard hit a big shot and we were able to make some big shots at the end," said Sunny Hills coach Jae Byun.
Alyssa Stewart forced overtime for Cabrillo when she banked in a 3-point shot with three seconds in regulation to tie it at 34-all.
The sixth-seeded Lancers (22-10) turned the tables on the third-seeded Conqs (27-4) after Cabrillo beat Sunny Hills 49-39 in a CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal at Sunny Hills.
The Conquistadores suffered another wrenching overtime loss. After losing a lead they had held against Downey Warren for most of regulation in the CIF-SS Division 3 championship game on March 3, Cabrillo scored four points in the last 18 seconds to force overtime. However, Warren ultimately won 47-42 after the game was tied 39-39 after regulation at Ontario Colony High School.
Still, the Conquistadores accomplished a lot this season. They rolled through the Los Padres League unbeaten, won a state tournament game for the first time when they defeated Bakersfield Golden Valley 60-43 at Cabrillo Wednesday night in the first round of the regional and qualified for the state tourney for the first time.
"That's what we're going to focus on," said Cabrillo coach Jared McCune, Alexa's father.
Barrow finished with 15 points. Arii added 11, with nine of her points coming on 3-pointers. Stewart led Cabrillo with 11. Standout Cabrillo senior point guard Erin Jenkins had eight before she fouled out about midway through the fourth quarter.
The game was officiated tightly — much too tightly for Jared McCune's liking.
"The referees called the game really tightly. I thought that was disappointing," said Jared McCune.
"It threw everybody off their rhythm early. It's a shame when star players are taken out of the game early like that. Erin is a very aggressive defender, but every time there was any sort of contact a foul was called."
Jared McCune said, "I'm sorry but that is not how the game is supposed to be called, especially at this high a level, in a state tournament. I don't like the three-person officiating crew system. It seems like they call either way too many fouls or too few."
There was a three-person officiating crew Saturday night. "(Erin Jenkins) being in foul trouble really hurt them," Byun acknowledged. Jared McCune often had to sit Jenkins, who fouled out early in overtime against Warren, because of Jenkins' foul trouble.
The toughest call against Cabrillo was a push-off against Stewart late in regulation that nullified a Stewart 3-pointer that would have tied the game at 31-all. An official made the call before Stewart got the shot off.
Sunny Hills center Shenise West dealt with four fouls. She avoided fouling out. During regulation, Jared McCune was upset that West wasn't called for a foul after going hard into the back of a Cabrillo player while going for a rebound. The Conqs kept possession of the ball on the play.
The Lancers made just four of their 13 foul shots, but the Conquistadores were even worse from the line. They were 2-for-13 on free throws.
"We haven't shot it that badly, all year" said Jared McCune. "We had our chances."
The teams didn't score much when they played at Sunny Hills, and both teams' zone defenses were even more effective Saturday night. Ultimately, Cabrillo couldn't do enough on offense, and Sunny Hills did just enough in that department.
"The girls have really worked hard on the (defensive) side of the ball, and our defense helped win it for us tonight," said Byun.
Sunny Hills hosted No. 15 South Gate Legacy Tuesday night in the regional semifinals. Legacy scored its second straight upset win in the regional Saturday night, beating No. 10 Cypress Oxford Academy 54-49.