The Lady Aztecs defeated Redondo Union High School with a score of 48-44 to win CIF regional finals at the Walter Pyramid Arena in Long Beach on March 21. The Lady Aztecs will be moving on to the CIF State Championship Finals, and will be playing against Archbishop Mitty High School. The game will be broadcasted live at 2pm on March 28 from Haas Pavillion, Berkeley.
With the No. 1 seed Mark Keppel playing against No. 2 in the regional tournament, it was clear that an intense game would ensue.
Keppel started strong with their shooting, leading 5-0 in the beginning of the first quarter. While Redondo had decent positioning, the ball failed to enter their basket until the end of quarter. Nevertheless, the Aztecs made most of their shots and controlled their pace, leading the first quarter with a score of 9-4.
During the second half, Redondo drove to the basket to score two points. Keppel responded with a fadeaway hook from junior Serena Chen, but free throws and a steal by Redondo’s players gave Redondo the momentum they needed. However, senior Arin Lee helped stop their momentum during her first moments on the court with a three pointer. Redondo responded with a three, but with Keppel’s great ball movement, junior Sophia Song managed to score a layup to extend Keppel’s lead to 19-14. With the second quarter nearly over, Redondo brought the lead down to a two point margin. However, with 50 seconds remaining, senior Lauren Saiki drove to the basket to end the second half with a score of 21-17.
Keppel got off to a rough start in the third quarter with a turnover that led to two points for Redondo. Despite many points by Song, including a great steal and pass by senior Tammi Matsukiyo to Song, Redondo scored more baskets and rebounded consistently, causing Keppel to lose their lead, 28-25. Keppel continued to trail with 1:20 remaining. However, a three by senior Kelli Kamida helped close that gap, with senior Kylie Fujioka contributing with her own basket to tie Keppel with 36 points apiece.
By the fourth quarter, Keppel took control of the game speed to keep the lead margin within one point. Keppel stepped up their defense as well to prevent Redondo’s Kyra Hamlin, who had scored 14 of Redondo’s points, from scoring.
A drive to the basket by Saiki and two free throws from Song gave Keppel a 44-41 lead with 1:14 left. However, a three-pointer from Redondo tied up the game with 40 seconds remaining.
Nevertheless, Saiki rushed to the basket to give Keppel a two point lead with 25 seconds remaining. With Redondo in possession, Keppel made the smart move of fouling, having had two fouls to give. In the end, Song stole the ball and, with 10 seconds remaining, scored a layup. Keppel won with a final score of 48-44.