May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Crean Lutheran battles but loses to top seeded Alemany 59-48 in CIF playoffs

Crean Lutheran guard Taylor Feldman goes for a basket in Wednesday’s CIF playoff game. (Photos courtesy John Luciano and Ted Rigoni, Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs)

The Crean Lutheran girls basketball team gave top-seeded Alemany all it could handle but the Saints came up short 59-48 Wednesday night in a CIF Division 2AA quarterfinal playoff game at Crean Lutheran.

Alemany (14-2) moves on to the semifinals on Saturday to face Leuzinger. The Saints finished the season at 15-5 after defeating Cantwell Sacred Heart and Santa Barbara in the first two rounds of the playoffs. 

Crean Lutheran junior guard Taylor Feldman led all scorers with 27 points. Maya Bland and Maddie Snyder each added seven points for the Saints, who won six of their final seven games. 

“The little things beat us tonight,” said Feldman. “We missed a lot of free throws (14) and they exposed us a bit. We were the underdogs coming in but we never gave up or quit. Our defensive effort never stopped.”

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Saints co-head coach Bianca Ziemann also emphasized that her team played hard.

“I’m beyond proud of these girls,” Ziemann said. “Alemany is the best team we faced this season and they may win the whole thing, they are that good. They have the bigs, the post players, the guards and they have the arsenal. Our team has come so far from where we were last year. These girls have such faith in each other. We’re only getting started here. We’re a young team and I expect us to be back in the playoffs again next season.”

The Saints got off to a slow start and trailed 18-7 after the first quarter and weren’t able to score on back-to-back possessions until a late first half 8-3 surge that cut the Warriors lead to 31-20 at intermission. 

Snyder, Feldman and Gianna DeForest helped spark a Crean Lutheran comeback in the third quarter. 

Snyder drilled 3-pointer and Feldman added a bucket and three as the Saints cut the lead to 37-30 with 2:46 left in the quarter, however Crean Lutheran could not draw any closer. Spirited defensive play by Ashley Heyer, Emily Reed and Maya Bland kept the Saints close but they were unable to get over the hump down the stretch.

“We played well but we beat ourselves a little,” said Snyder, a senior guard. “But we never quit. The bench was screaming and our fans were screaming and rallying behind us. Our team is very close. We’re like sisters. We all pull for each other all of the time.”

“We tried our best and we’re encouraged that we played with the number one team as well as we did,” said DeForest. 

In the final quarter each time the Saints made a run, the Warriors countered and finally put the game away. 

“We’ve grown so much as a team,” Snyder said. “They were one of the best teams we’ve played this year and we played together and we never quit.”

Jordan Jiron led Alemany with 17 points, while teammates Bryanne Lopez-Wood, Alondra Lizama and Maleyni Tolliver each scored 12 points apiece.

—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone