Girls' Basketball Playoffs: JSerra, Laguna Hills, Aliso Win

It's a tough night for South County teams, but not everyone goes down to defeat. Laguna Hills wins a thriller.

These are the games that can catch a team out. Good opponent, hostile gym, long bus ride. But JSerra, ranked in the state top 20, avoided the upset Wednesday night in Torrance.

Playing on the road, the second-seeded Lions got 20 points from August Touchard and 18 from Coco Miller to beat seventh-seeded Bishop Montgomery, 61-58, in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division 4AA Girls Basketball playoffs.

With its victory, JSerra advances to the semifinals to play third-seeded Gardena Serra, which defeated Long Beach St. Anthony, 58-45.

Both teams are in the state rankings; JSerra is No. 17 by Cal-Hi Sports and Serra is No. 19.

The Lions (23-5) lost to Bishop Montgomery in December, and after taking a six-point lead in the first quarter managed to hold on the rest of the way. JSerra led going into the fourth quarter, 48-45.

Touchard, who had eight assists and five rebounds, made a four-point play to open the fourth quarter for a 52-45 lead and provide some breathing room for her teammates.  Courtney Vaccher added 12 points.

Division 3AAA, quarterfinals

(3) Laguna Hills 58, (5) Pomona Diamond Ranch 56 (OT)—If JSerra thought it had it tough, that was nothing compared to Laguna Hills. The Hawks (22-7), the reigning champions of the division, got a three-point basket from Maddy Ziering-Smith that sent the game into overtime, and she made two free throws with three seconds remaining for the win.  Ziering-Smith matched her season high with 26 points, while Taylor Messick had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Cheyenne Berbey had 10 points. Laguna Hills trailed 16-9 after one quarter against the Panthers (22-8). The Hawks will play top-seeded Gahr, a 66-48 winner over North Torrance, in the semifinals on Saturday.

Division 3A, quarterfinals

(3) La Canada 53, (6) Santa Margarita 47—Facing the third-seeded Spartans (20-8) on the road was never going to be an easy task for Santa Margarita (8-20), whose undoing came in the third quarter. The Eagles took a 27-15 lead into halftime, but were outscored 22-7 in the pivotal third. Zaire Williams led the Eagles with 15 points, followed by Caitlin Heinly with 11 and Jordy Co with 10.

Division 1AA, second round

(3) Corona Santiago 89, (14) San Clemente 61—Frankie Pinto scored 20 points but the Tritons (17-7) couldn’t keep up at Santiago (26-2). Alexa Johnson added nine points.

(7) Rancho Verde 49,  (10) Los Alamitos 43—The Griffins (22-6) trailed by one point at halftime, but were outscored in the third quarter, 17-10. Los Alamitos was led by Katelyn McCutchen and Neah Odom with 12 points apiece.


(1) La Puente Bishop Amat 66, Dana Hills 28—The perennial power Lancers held Dana Hills to single-digit scoring over the last three quarters after opening a 23-10 advantage in the first. The Dolphins (15-12) got 12 points from serena Saba and nine from Patricia Flynn.

(9) Westminster 54, Fountain Valley 46—Jasmine Matar scored 14 and Emily Kruse 12 for the Barons (12-15), who had a big third quarter to pull to within 32-29, but couldn’t finish the upset attempt.

Aliso Niguel 53, (4) Newbury Park 37—In a performance that was every bit as impressive as Laguna Hills’ and JSerra’s, the Wolverines delivered a huge upset. After falling behind in the first quarter by five points and trailing at halftime, 23-19, Aliso dominated the second half and finished with a flourish, a 19-6 advantage in the fourth quarter. Chloe Sharabba scored 15 points and had nine rebounds, and Meagan Hayes had 15 points and eight rebounds. Aliso on Saturday will play in the quarterfinals against Ventura, a 36-35 winner over Huntington Beach.

Division 2A, second round

(3) Jurupa Valley Patriot 49, (14) Tesoro 24—Playing at home, the Titans (14-14) trailed 18-13 at halftime before their hopes of victory faded. Tesoro had no answer for Sabrina Avery, who scored 24 points; she was the only player to score in double figures. Jurupa Valley outscored Tesoro in the third quarter, 17-5. The Titans got seven points apiece from Kendall Hughes and Priya Prasad.


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