Led by the dynamic play of collegiate-bound senior guards Asia Avinger and Nicole Rodriguez, second-seeded Rosary Academy of Fullerton knocked off top-seeded host Cathedral Catholic, 55-48, in Tuesday night’s final of the CIF Division I SoCal Regional girls’ basketball tournament. The loss concludes Cathedral’s season, which included a runner-up finish in the CIF San Diego Open Division, at 21-12, one rung short of the CIF State Championship game.
Avinger, who will play next year at San Diego State, and Rodriguez, who is headed to Loyola Marymount, accounted for 20 and 19 points respectively and along with sophomore guard Kaylee Byon (12) were responsible for all but four of the Royals’ 55 points. Their play on both ends of the court kept the Dons’ from ever really taking command for an extended stretch.
Rosary bolted to a 10-2 lead from the opening tip but as would become a pattern, Cathedral Catholic was able to grind its way back from the deficit, only to see the Royals reestablish the advantage. Uncharacteristic turnover flurries and difficulty creating its typical inside dominance offensively hampered the Dons. Yet they stubbornly maintained contact and, even though not in their best form, were still in position to potentially prevail until the waning minutes.
“The game wasn’t played at our pace in the first half and you’ve got to give Rosary some credit there,” said Cathedral Head Coach Jackie Turpin. “Defensive stops kept us in it. We started hitting the boards harder in the second half and were able to pick up the tempo.
“They are a veteran team and their two guards hit some tough, contested shots when they needed to.”
Sophomore guard Taryn Johnson scored a team high 13 points for the home team but only two came in the first half when she spent a long stretch on the bench after picking up a pair of fouls in the first two minutes. Sophomore Isuneh “Ice” Brady registered 12 points and 16 rebounds while senior Mazatlan Harris chipped in with 11 points.
The 6-4 Brady who was averaging just over 20 markers per game coming in, was consistently double-teamed by a pair of smaller, ball-hawking Royals and had trouble getting the ball inside. Rosary, the defending CIF State Division I champions, clearly learned something from an early December meeting between the two teams where Cathedral Catholic triumphed, 61-48.
Turpin will be counting on her youthful squad, which had only two seniors in the regular rotation, pulling some lessons from Tuesday’s result.
“This was not the way we wanted it to go tonight but in the big picture, we had a great season and we have a young roster that will grow from this experience,” said Turpin. “It’s all about competition. We played a very tough schedule, had so many close games, went to overtime three times—you build from that.
“I’m so proud of this team and what it accomplished—they played their hearts out all season.”