The Mary Star High girls basketball team would make program history with a 48-38 victory over visiting Arrowhead Christian of Redlands in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5-AA quarterfinals on Wednesday. The historic part was, this is Mary Star's first ever girls basketball semifinal playoff berth.
With a solid defensive effort that saw the Stars (19-8 overall) pile up 15 steals against a talented Eagles team, Mary Star earned their shot at talented and top-seeded Grace Brethren of Simi Valley in the semifinals on Saturday, 7 pm at Grace Brethren High.
After giving up the game's first basket from the opening tip, the Stars went on a 9-0 run to seize control, capped off by a three-pointer from sophomore guard Sarah Leyba. The Stars would carry a 14-10 lead at the end of the quarter before slightly adding their lead up to 22-17 at the break, thanks to a pair of three-pointers from freshman forward Karla Rocha and tough defense when it mattered most from junior center Lorraine Medina on the interior and senior point guard Hanalei Emnace on the perimeter.
A late clutch running jumper from senior guard Jillian Duran was a critical basket for Mary Star late in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, the Stars would open it up to a 40-25 lead as Rocha hit another three-pointer and scored seven points in the period, as she finished with a team-high 13 points. The Eagles (17-9) would get a four-point play early in the fourth quarter and was able to cut Mary Star's lead to 44-36, but a layup from senior forward Melanie Meza off Duran's bounce pass with under two minutes to play pushed the lead back up to double digits.
Leyba would then hit two-of-four free throws in the closing seconds, and after Arrowhead Christian failed to get a final shot off, Mary Star stormed half court to celebrate amongst their fans.
Meza would produce 8 points and 6 rebounds for Mary Star, who also got 6 points, 7 assists and 6 steals from Emance along with a trio of 6's in points, assists and steals from Duran. Medina had 7 points and 3 blocks, and Leyba scored 6 points to go along with three rebounds for the Stars, who last year lost in the CIF-SS Division 5-AA quarterfinals.
What a difference a year makes for this rapidly improving program under fifth year coach Victor Tuberosi.