Sentinels girls lose 50-46 to Foothill in Division III-A final
Hopes were high for the Inglewood girls basketball team Thursday night as they reached the program’s first-ever CIF final at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.
But the dream season turned into a nightmare as costly mistakes and poor shooting led to a 50-46 loss to Santa Ana Foothill in the Division III-A championship game. Inglewood (16-16) hit only one jump shot during the game as Foothill win their first CIF title since 1985.
The Sentinels’ first-half trouble started when they allowed Foothill to score a lay-up off the opening tip. They had trouble matching Foothill’s physical presence on the glass, led by the 6-1 frontcourt of seniors Makenzie Hirz and USC-commit Christina Marinacci, and faced a 13-point deficit at one point before trailing 24-15 at halftime.
“We were flustered early because of their length,” Sentinels Coach Tony Scott said.
Inglewood turned up their defense in the second half, cutting the lead to four with 45 seconds left in the game. In total, they forced 18 turnovers but they weren’t able to convert most of those into points as a good play was seemingly followed by a bad one.
“[Our defense] been our main staple all year and that kept us in the game,” Scott said.
Their only shot from the perimeter came in the third quarter as Makeda Beadle hit a 16-footer with 30 seconds left. Most of the misses found their way into the hands of Marinacci and Hirz, who combined for 21 rebounds (16 defensive)
Marinacci, who’s headed to the McDonald’s All-American Game, finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and
Junior guard Hazel Ramirez (15 points, four steals) was the Sentinels’ only effective weapon as she engineered the comeback by attacking to the basket and pressuring Foothill’s ball handlers. She scored 13 in the second half before fouling out with 1:02 left in the game.
“They’re on the same level as us but just a little taller,” Ramirez said, her voice low with emotion. “I’m just disappointed.”
Renee Golliday scored 11 for the Sentinels and Beadle chipped with 10. The night was rough for senior forward Taylor Champion, who couldn’t get going offensively and finished with four points on 2-for-10 shooting.
“We picked the wrong night for everybody not to be on but [Ramirez],” Scott said. “We [executed] in spurts but in a championship game, you got to have it the whole game.”
It has been a roller-coaster type season for the Sentinels. They began the year with high expectations but after jumping out to a great start, they had to forfeit their first 14 games due to ineligible players. The team regrouped to win the Ocean League and earn the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
The loss hurts their chances to qualify for the Southern California regional state tournament, although they were given a boost when Sherman Oaks Notre Dame defeated Orange Lutheran in the Division IV-AA final.
They will find out Sunday whether or not they get in, but first comes practice on Saturday morning practice that takes them back to the drawing board to regroup.
“This is our first time in the spotlight and maybe the kids were a little nervous. It happens,” Scott said, “We’ll just lace them up, look at game film and start all over.”