By: Derryl Trujillo

Inland Sports Senior Writer

Both Ontario Christian and Chaparral struggled to make shots from the floor over sixteen minutes of first half action in a CIF-SS 3AA semifinal from Temecula on Saturday night. But in quarter three Chloe Briggs, Maddie Martinez and the Lady Knights kicked things into gear. They outscored the Pumas (Southwestern League runner up) 19-4, holding Chaparral without a point for 6:28, and hitting five threes, stretching an eight-point lead to 23. A late fourth quarter outburst from Hunter Simon made Ontario Christian’s lead 47-34 but they would get no closer. Next week it will be the Lady Knights looking for final’s redemption against either La Quinta/La Quinta or Sage Hill after prevailing 62-43. They fell to Paloma Valley in last year’s 4AA final.

The lead changed hands four times in first quarter action with Ontario Christian scoring the final five points on a three pointer from Martinez and a layup from Kiley Goedhart to take an 11-8 lead.

Dorothy Elemento (24) gets a shot off as the Pumas battle top-seeded Ontario Christian. Valley News/David Canales photo

Dorothy Elemento gave the Pumas a momentary lead at 14-12 after connecting on a three pointer with just under five minutes to half. Ella Duvachelle put Chaparral ahead one final time at 17-14 with 3:40 till half. From there the Lady Knights closed on an 11-0 run to take an eight-point lead at half. Martinez hit a three in transition and Briggs had the final four points.

In postgame remarks Briggs said “I’ve been excited for high school basketball my entire life so to get to two finals in two years is just a blessing. We’ve got five seniors and I’d love nothing more than to send them off with a CIF-SS title. A year ago, we didn’t take practice seriously leading into that game with Paloma Valley, we thought we were the best…lesson learned, and we’ll be ready this go around.”

At the half Ontario Christian was 2-17 from 3 while Chaparral struggled to get good looks against the Lady Knights zone defenses.

Coming out of intermission the Lady Knights got it rolling. Briggs (2) and Taryn Mouw (1) connected on three straight from beyond the arc to put Ontario Christian ahead 36-17 with 2:50 left in third quarter play. Then Martinez hit consecutive threes to put the visitors up 44-18 before a late Puma 3 made it 44-21. That shot from Grayse Fa’asua was the only Chaparral field goal in the quarter.

Simon went on an 11-3 run of her own, closing the Puma deficit to 47-34 before fouling out. Martinez hit four of her eight three pointers in that final quarter as Ontario Christian restored a comfortable lead and advanced.

Chaparral’s Hunter Simon (4) scores 18 points as the Pumas fall to Ontario Christian 62-43 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA semifinals Saturday, June 5. Valley News/David Canales photo

Knights coach Matt Tumambing said “Some of the early struggles were a product of nerves but once we got rolling, we relaxed and saw shots start going in. A year ago, I hyped things up too much and over prepared us instead of treating it like another game. We’ll be more relaxed in how we go about things this time knowing what we know from last year.”

Pumas coach Jerry Blanco remarked “There’s nothing on the wall for Chaparral girls’ basketball in this gym so to reach this stage is huge for our program. Kids we’d lose to other Southwestern League schools want to stay and be a part of things here which makes me excited for our future. I thought we did a good job of preparing for Ontario Christian but when a team shoots it that well they’re tough to beat.”

Ontario Christian scoring: Chloe Briggs – 27 pts; Maddie Martinez – 24 pts; Kailee Briggs – 1 pt; Kiley Goedhart – 4 pts; Taryn Mouw – 6 pts. 3 pointers: Martinez (8), Chloe Briggs & Mouw (2 each).

Chaparral scoring: Hunter Simon – 20 pts; Ella Duvachelle – 8 pts; Savannah Schmidt – 3 pts; Dorothy Elemento – 6 pts; Grayse Fa’asua – 3 pts Rokhaya Cisse – 3 pts; Mary Jane Smith – 2 pts. 3 pointers: Cisse (1), Simon (1), Duvachelle (1), Schmidt (1), Elemento (1), Fa’asua (1)

Derryl Trujillo can be reached by email at socaltrekkie@gmail.com.

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