SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Leaonna Odom
celebrated her birthday in grand style by scoring 12 of her 33 points in the fourth quarter as Chaminade (West Hills)
held off previously unbeaten Miramonte (Orinda)
80-71 to win the California girls' Open Division championship Saturday at Sleep Train Arena.
Odom added 15 rebounds for previously No. 12 Chaminade (31-4) but it was really a four-part "Happy Birthday" harmony.
(16 points, eight assists, four blocks and four steals), Melissa Wright
(15 points, 11 rebounds) and Isabel Newman
(12 points) combined with Odom to score all but four of Chaminade's points.Sabrina Ionescu
had a triple double for previous No. 6 Miramonte (32-1) with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and triggered a 22-point turnaround for the Northern California champion in the second and third quarters.
The biggest deficit was 37-17 with 5:26 remaining in the second quarter, but after Higgins converted two free throws with 1:30 left, Chaminade had an apparently comfortable 43-27 lead. In fact, that 16-margin was still intact with nine seconds left, but Elle Louie
hit a three from the right wing, then stole an entry pass and fed Ionescu for a 30-foot, banked-in buzzer-beater that cut the margin to 43-33 at the half.
The Northern California champion continued the surge in the third quarter and chipped away untik Keana Delos Santos hit a three-pointer with 1:32 left in the third to give Miramonte a 53-51 lead. Odom answered with a basket on an inbounds play to tie it, and then Wright scored inside to push Chaminade ahead 55-53.
Ionescu responded with one of her acrobatic drives to tie it one last time, but not surprisingly, it was the birthday girl who put Chaminade ahead for good just before the quarter ended, and triggered a 12-2 run that essentially decided the game.
"We exerted a lot of energy to come back," said Miramonte coach Kelly Sopak, "but we just couldn't weather that last storm. They converted on some offensive putbacks, and that was the difference."
"We had to dig deep," said Chaminade coach Kelly DiMuro, "and find that extra push." DiMuro also credited the tough schedule – which played a big role in those four losses, along with an Odom injury – for helping Chaminade bounce back. "We played one of the toughest schedules in the country," she said, "and it helped us."
"We had to stay poised," said Odom. "I knew we would get the W in the end."
Of course, Odom had a lot to do with that W. "She's an astonishing player," said Higgins. "She makes it so easy for me."
"It's a special player who can do that," said Sopak, "and that's what she is, a special player."
And she had a very special birthday.