Jeff Sink has been around this block a couple of times, and the veteran coach at Brea-Olinda, last week's No. 1 team in the nation, might not be as upset as you'd think about losing to Southern California rival Mater Dei (No. 2 last week) in the Southern Section Division IAA finals on Saturday.
After all, both teams move on to the Southern California Regionals, and unless another upset as shocking as Santa Monica's win over then No. 3 Long Beach Poly occurs in the next two weeks, Brea and Mater Dei are on track for a March 19 rematch in the Southern California finals.
And that one is the one that really counts, because the loser there is eliminated, and the winner will move on to the California Division I championship game March 27 against Northern California's survivor. So not only might Sink use Saturday's 63-54 loss as motivation, he might not have played all the cards in his deck in a game that essentially decided only which team got the top seed in the SoCal Regionals, and which team was seeded second.
Still, for Mater Dei, avenging that earlier loss and knocking off the unbeaten No. 1 team in the nation was certainly sweet. The Monarchs jumped out to a 16-4 lead and led by seven at the half. When Connecticut-bound Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
converted an old-fashioned three-point play (on her way to 16 points) that extended the Mater Dei lead to 50-36, and the Monarchs survived a late Brea run to win the Southern Section title — and set up round three (hopefully) two weeks down the road.
And it wouldn't be a surprise if Sink digs a little deeper into the Brea-Olinda playbook in the game that matters most.
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No. 3 Bolingbrook came this close to losing to archrival Whitney Young in the Illinois 4A semifinals, as the Raiders trailed by eight points in the third quarter and by five with less than a minute to go in regulation.
But Allie Hill's
3-pointer made it 45-43, and after Bolingbrook regained possession, Tennessee-bound Ariel Massengale
found UConn-commit Morgan Tuck
to tie it up.
In overtime, the issue wasn't decided until Taylor Tuck
hit a free throw with 1.7 seconds left to put Bolingbrook up 50-49. She then missed the second on purpose, and Whitney Young had no chance to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded — and Bolingbrook escaped with national ranking intact.
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The biggest upset of the week came in Arkansas, where Northside (Fort Smith, Ark.)
came from 18 points down in the third quarter to stun previously unbeaten North Little Rock, 69-66. In fact, the Charging Wildcats (love that mascot) were riding a 59-game winning streak and had the game firmly in hand until Grizzlies coach Rickey Smith applied a full-court press and turned the game around.
The loss knocked previously No. 13 North Little Rock out of the Xcellent 25, as the Charging Wildcats hadn't played a national schedule, and thus left themselves no margin for error in the postseason.
Another ranked victim was Butler of North Carolina, which was stunned by Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.)
in the regional semifinals – and unlike California, the Bulldogs don't get another life. With star Cierra Burdick battling strep throat, second leading scorer Aliyah Kirkpatrick suspended after an on-court incident, and Jadda Atkinson out with an ACL tear suffered Feb. 25, Butler wasn't exactly at full strength. But in the cruel world of athletics, and national rankings, the scoreboard doesn't lie.
So like North Little Rock, Butler dropped out of the Xcellent 25, as the Bulldogs didn't have a win over an elite team to offset the upset defeat to an unranked team.
1. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
2. (1) Brea Olinda (Calif.)
3. (3) Bolingbrook (Ill.)
4. (4) Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.)
5. (5) Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.)
6. (6) Shabazz (Newark, N.J.)
7. (7) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
8. (8) Twinsburg (Ohio)
9. (9) Midwest City (Okla.)
10. (10) Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
11. (11) Neptune (N.J.)
12. (12) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
13. (15) Webb City (Mo.)
14. (14) Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
15. (17) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.)
16. (18) Westbury Christian (Houston)
17. (19) Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.)
18. (20) St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
19. (nr) Fayetteville (Ark.)
20. (21) Clackamas (Ore.)
21. (22) Canyon (Texas)
22. (nr) MacArthur (Irving, Texas)
23. (23) Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.)
24. (24) McKinley (Canton, Ohio)
25. (25) Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii)
Dropped out: No. 13 North Little Rock*, No. 16 Butler (Matthews, N.C.)*