High school sports

Sparta(n)s conquer all for CIF title

ORANGEWOOD ACADEMY of Garden Grove won the CIF-SS 2-AA girls’ basketball crown Saturday night, defeating league final Fairmont Prep 57-49 at Godinez High in Santa Ana (Orange County Tribune photos by Christopher Abdelmalek).

By Christopher Abdelmalek

The age-old saying that defense wins championships prevailed on Saturday night as the Spartans of Orangewood Academy took down the Huskies of Fairmont Prep 57-49 in the CIF 2-AA girls basketball title game held at Godinez High School in Santa Ana. Senior guard Sydney Gandy led the way for the Spartans with 16 points.

The Spartans came out with a mission on defense in this game and it was evident from the first quarter. They held the Huskies to abysmal twenty percent from the field in the first quarter allowing only seven points. “We did a better job of corralling number 23 this time,” said Coach Leslie Aragon of Orangewood, referring to Fairmont’s Anling Su Vera.

The defensive mentality continued in the second quarter, as Orangewood allowed only nine points. The whole time the Spartans are connecting on their shots and building upon their lead. The team went 6-for-13 in the second and stretched the lead out to 31-16 at the half.

AIXCHEL HERNANDEZ (23) was a force inside for Orangewood.

However, with aggressive defense comes lots of fouls. In the second half, those fouls started to add up. Starting center Aixchel Hernandez had three fouls early into the third quarter and starting forward Elodie Lalotte also had three mid-way through the third.

This put the Spartans a bit in a bind defensively and it allowed the Huskies a chance to cut into the lead a bit. The Huskies would start to try to make a comeback late in the third and closed out the quarter on a nice run.

Aragon would turn to sophomore Sofia Saldivar who came in and provided a huge spark. “Sofia gave us good minutes off the bench,” he said. She dropped in 10 points, four rebounds, a steal, an assist and a block. All this while leading the second unit in minutes played.

Despite their best efforts though, Fairmont was still down by 17 points going into the fourth quarter.

Huskies guard Kayla Ishibashi stepped up big for them in the fourth quarter hitting three of her four three-pointers in the last quarter and putting a ton of pressure on the Spartans as they managed to trim to lead to single digits with less than two minutes in the game. “We missed a couple of easy ones that lead to them getting into transition,” said Aragon on the mounting comeback.

But, the size and strength of the Spartans were too much as Hernandez, 6’3’’, was playing high low with Lalotte, also 6’3’’, and hit her for an easy layup with less than a minute left to essentially seal the victory for the champions. They would go on to win 57-49.

Aragon was thrilled after the game. “It never gets old,” he said. “For a school of our size, all glory be to God.”

The Spartans finished the season 26-6 winning their first title since 2015.


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