June 14, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Portola battles but comes up short in CIF second round game vs. Redondo Union

Portola players head off the court following Saturday’s loss. (Photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Portola High School’s girls basketball team, cheered on by a large turnout of fans Saturday night at home, battled until the end but lost to Redondo Union 66-50 in the second round of the CIF Division 1 playoffs.

Portola finished 23-6 and despite the loss, Coach Brian Barham said he remained proud of his team’s effort against a much taller Redondo Union team which was led by 6-4 Ella Zimmerman and 6-1 Abby Zimmerman. Ella Zimmerman had a game-high 26 points and Abby Zimmerman scored 17 points.

Portola had tremendous success hitting 3-pointers this season but was limited to three Saturday. Barham said Sage Hill had prepared the Bulldogs for playing against a taller team.

“They did a good job of doing what we do best, and that’s shooting the ball from deep, I think we only had three 3’s so whenever the three ball is going to be neutralized like that, we’re probably not going to have the results we like but I loved the fight, there is zero doubt in my mind that we were going to fight until the death, we’re built for that,” Barham said.

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Redondo Union held a 31-22 halftime lead but Portola made some runs in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 35-30 on a 3-pointer by Nina Saki. But Redondo Union held a 43-32 lead after three quarters and led comfortably in the final stanza.

Saki led Portola with 21 points.

“She just found her way as the season went on preparing herself to run this program forward and I’m glad she got some good momentum leading into her senior year,” Barham said.

Kira Watanabe, capping a remarkable career in which she set numerous game, season and career records, added 11 points for Portola. She was the only other Portola player in double figures.

“It’s not about her points, it’s the way that she facilitates and gets everybody involved,” Barham. “Miss or make, it doesn’t matter, she is Portola basketball and I thought her fight was magnificent. I have slept well at night for four years having that kid as my point guard and it’s going to be difficult not having her around anymore.”

Barham and the other coaches met with the players at length after the loss.

“It’s a heck of a run and I couldn’t be more proud of these kids, they did everything out here they possibly could. Couldn’t be prouder of this group. We believe in each sharing the ball and whoever is feeling it is feeling it. It’s a complete, collective effort.”

Following the game, Portola players thanked their fans for coming out to support them.

Redondo Union (24-5) moves on to face Harvard Westlake in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com