ONTARIO — The deficit was getting larger, but Bishop Diego kept battling like it still had a shot to win Saturday’s CIF-SS Division 5A girls basketball final against top-seeded Ganesha of Pomona.
The second-seeded Cardinals, however, couldn’t attack the basket and draw the fouls like usually do, they didn’t make enough outside shots to stay within striking distance earlier in the game and they ended up falling to the Giants, 58-35, at Colony High.
Ganesha’s triple-threat of Heavenly Greer, Ebony Delgado and Ra’Nell Harrison combined for 54 points, led by Harrison’s 22 points.
Greer, Ganesha’s 6-foot-4 center, showed why she is considered one of the best prep players in the country, scoring 16 points on 8-14 shooting and grabbing 16 rebounds. And, her presence in the paint took away one of Bishop’s strength: attacking the basket.
“I think their length, it just prevented us from attacking the basket,” said Burich. “We’re usually so good at getting inside the lane and drawing fouls. We got some baseline drives, which I was happy with, but we always didn’t get the calls on the baseline. But we weren’t able to attack the slots on top like we usually are. That was a diference in the game.”
Bishop point guard Elliot Redkey tried to drive inside but was often times rejected.
“I tried to get around a few times and I’d get the initial contact but then I’d get blocked. I just wasn’t getting the calls tonight. We did what we could, but we weren’t driving as much as we were. Julia (De La Cruz) and and I weren’t scoring as much as we usually do and we weren’t as aggressive offensively.”
De La Cruz credited Ganehsa’s defense for disrupting Bishop’s attack.
“They kind of knew what we were going to do and that made it difficult,” she said. “They were faster than us and they were more athletic and longer, so it was a little hard to drive by them.”
The Cardinals achieved a goal of holding Greer under points.
“I said if we hold her under 20, we have a great chance,” Burich said. “But it’s the other people. No. 5 (Harrison) got nine and that was a killer for us in the first half that she was able to get those points.”
Ashlyn Oxton-Madrigal said it was difficult guarding the taller Greer, “but I had faith in myselft and my other teammates who were guarding her. It was nerve wracking but I knew that we could handle the pressure.”
Bishop Diego started to lose ground from Ganesha in the second quarter. The Giants went on an 11-2 run to take a 27-13 lead. The run was capped by a coast-to-coast drive by Greer, who was equally effective shooting and dribbling with both hands.
Lily Simolon hit her second 15-foot baseline shot to bring Bishop to 27-15 at halftime.
Delglado, the Giants’ quick point guard, opened the third quarter with a drive, but Bishop answered with a basket inside by Sydney Naour off a nice Julia De La Cruz assist.
Ganesha then broke out with three straight fast breaks the resulted in six unanswered points to expand its lead to 38-20 with 4:12 left in the quarter. Greer led two of the fast breaks.
Simolon hit her third baseline shot and Mileyni Sanchez drilled a three-pointer to pull Bishop to 38-25. That was as close at the Cardinals would get.
Simolon and Sanchez, both freshman each had six points to lead Bishop in scoring, De La Cruz and Ashlyn Oxton-Madrigal each had five points.
“I thought Lily played her you know what off,” said Burich. “That girl is a beast and, I guarantee you, I haven’t seen a lot of (Ganesha’s) playoff games, but I think we challenged them as much as anybody.”
On the team battling till the end, Burich said: “That’s just the way these guys are. When we’re an offensive team and we can attack and as long as we feel we have those opportunities, then we’re good. What scares us more is when they try to slow the game down and it’s not going up and down anymore.
“The way we battled back against Woodcrest Christian (in the quarterfinals) when we were down, I know that these ladies know that anything is possible. I know there is no quit in these girls.”