No one in anyone's wildest dreams six years ago that after 30 regular season games, the Mary Star High girls basketball team would accomplish something as a postseason run extended beyond the CIF-Southern Section.
When coach Victor Tuberosi took over the job at the start of the 2013-2014 season, the Stars eventually lost every single league game and went 6-16 overall. Now, five years later, the once maligned program is now going to compete in the CIF State Division 5 Southern California Regional playoffs for the first time in program history.
By virtue of their second straight berth in the CIF-SS Division 5-AA semifinals, Mary Star (15-15 overall) was awarded the tenth seed of the Division 5 So Cal Regionals and will take on seventh-seeded Montclair (18-12), the CIF-SS Division 5-AA runner-up, on Tuesday at 7 pm in the first round at Montclair High. This is the first CIF State regional playoff game in the history of Mary Star girls basketball.
Both the Stars and Cavaliers had their CIF-SS Division 5-AA title hopes dashed by the eventual champion Linfield Christian of Temecula in their prior games, with Mary Star losing 54-27 in the semifinals on February 15, and Montclair falling 62-44 in the championship game to the Lions this past Saturday.
Now one of these team's seasons will end with a second straight loss as these two teams look to prove a point and make the most of their second opportunity.
After starting the season 5-4, Mary Star would go on an injury-riddled losing streak of six games as key players like returning All-Santa Fe League senior center Lorraine Medina went down. Also, promising sophomore point guard Isabella Serrano was still on transfer sit-out period after coming over from nearby Port Of Los Angeles High. That sixth straight loss was Serrano's first game on board, a 38-36 loss to Capistrano Valley on December 27.
From that point on once Serrano worked her way into the fabric of the team's chemistry, Mary Star would win their next five games in a row, including a come-from-behind 47-41 Santa Fe League opening road upset of favored St. Genevieve on January 3 in which Serrano scored 20 points, and returning All-Santa Fe League sophomore forward Karla Rocha buried six three-pointers en route to a game-high 22 points.
Mary Star would finish 5-3 in the Santa Fe League, good for third place, but once again found a certain groove once the team was fully healthy when the CIF-SS Division 5-AA playoffs began.
The Stars would take down Eastside Christian of Fullerton, 37-28 in the opening round, then would stun Rancho Christian of Temecula, 61-58 in overtime in the second round, as a 21-point outing from junior guard Sarah Leyba combined with a stellar performance from Medina (who made the tying basket to force overtime), was good enough to eliminate the fourth-seeded Eagles. Rocha won the game with three free throws in overtime with 16.2 seconds left.
In the quarterfinals, Mary Star then won going away 47-37 at Mesa Grande Academy of Calimesa before finally going down to defeat in the semifinals at home against Linfield Christian, who blitzed the Stars with a 25-0 run to turn a close game into blowout city midway through the fourth quarter.
Montclair cruised in the first two rounds of the CIF-SS Division 5-AA playoffs before posting back-to-back tough wins over Costa Mesa and Marshall of Pasadena to reach the final against Linfield Christian.
Other players who have contributed well for the Stars this season includes sophomore shooting guard Cristina Camacho, senior forward Lexi Quilliam and sophomore forward Kaitlyn Oasay. Senior guard Hailey Jaramilla and junior power forward Jenna Miloe have also provided great leadership as tri-captains alongside Medina.
For the full CIF Basketball 2019 State Playoff brackets... you can find them here (just click on Division V): http://cifstate.org/sports/basketball/G_brkts_2019/index