May 20, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Crean Lutheran falls to Santa Fe 64-48 in CIF semifinals but season expected to continue

Crean Lutheran coach Kelsi Walker talks to her team during an earlier playoff game (File photo Crean Lutheran High School).

After three playoff victories the Crean Lutheran girls basketball team’s bid for its first CIF title will have to wait for at least one more year.

Despite 28 points from freshman Taylor Feldman and a gallant effort by the team, the Saints came up short and as they fell to Santa Fe 64-48 in a semifinal game of the CIF Division 4A playoffs Friday night at Santa Fe High.

Please click here to see action pictures from the game

Leah Saynes and JoAnna Stroud combined to score 29 points as the Chiefs (21-8) pulled away in the fourth quarter to advance to their first final in school history. Santa Fe will face Hillcrest, who defeated Anaheim on Friday, next Saturday. 

Crean Lutheran coach Kelsi Walker said it just wasn’t her team’s night.

“We couldn’t rebound and we weren’t hitting our shots,” said Walker. “We had our worst offensive game of the season but you have to give them credit. They boxed out well and they got a lot of offensive rebounds.”

However, Walker said her team’s season isn’t over as she expects the Saints (25-6) to qualify for the upcoming state tournament.

“We’re going to turn out full attention to the state tournament and continue to build our team,” she said. “We’re young and we’re going to get better. These girls had an amazing season.”

Trailing 44-35 at the start of the fourth quarter, Crean Lutheran made it interesting. In the early moments of the quarter, Feldman hit a basket and then Allison Reed drilled a 3-pointer and then Feldman stole the ball and laid it in to cut the Chiefs lead to 48-42 with 6:03 to play.

Remarkably, Feldman stole the ball again but missed a tough shot that would have trimmed the lead to four points and given the Saints an added boost.

However, following Feldman’s near miss, Santa Fe turned it up a notch and went on a 13-0 run that turned the tide of the game. The Chiefs hit three consecutive 3’s from three different players and never relinquished the momentum as they cruised to victory.

“We maintained aggression throughout the game and when the crowd got louder, we used it and it gave us a huge lift,” said Chiefs Coach Zac Cokely. 

Santa Fe held a huge rebounding advantage in the second half and on numerous occasions was able to rebound the ball on the offensive glass and score crucial points. 

“I don’t think as a team we had our best energy tonight,” said Feldman. “We were nervous at the beginning of the game. They took advantage of their size and we were just not on our game tonight. But I can’t wait to get going for next year.”

Both teams displayed some nerves as the game started. The Saints held their only lead of the game (4-2) following two free throws by Feldman early in the first quarter. Santa Fe went on a 11-0 run to build 13-4 lead but Feldman knocked down two baskets down the stretch to cut the lead to 13-8 at the end of the first quarter. 

Emily Reed and Feldman kept Crean Lutheran close in the second quarter until Oluwatomi Oginni nailed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in the half to propel Santa Fe to a 28-21 halftime lead. 

Crean Lutheran continued to battle and stayed within striking distance following late buckets by Feldman and Hailee Daniel in the third quarter but the Chiefs maintained a 44-35 lead after three periods.    

Reed, Shannon O’Malley and Daniel each scored five points for the Saints.

“It was an amazing senior season and I love all of the girls,” said Reed. “We didn’t hit our shots and we didn’t play well offensively tonight but we had a great season.”

-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone