May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Santa Ana’s road to first CIF championship game had its share of challenges along the way

Santa Ana’s Janessa Roa is double teamed by No. 0 Mackenzie Sanchez and No. 2 Elizabeth Sanchez during Wednesday’s game. (Photo courtesy Mark Bausman, For OC Sports Zone).

Santa Ana High School’s girls basketball team has reached the CIF 5A championship game for the first time in school history. But the road to Los Angeles, where the Saints will take on top-seeded LA Price Saturday at 7 p.m., has not been an easy one.

The Saints advanced by defeating Estancia 39-37 Wednesday night in the semifinals, setting off a big celebration on the court among hundreds of Santa Ana fans who turned out to support their team, which finished third in the Orange Coast League with a 6-4 record behind league champion Calvary Chapel and second place Saddleback.

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

It appears a challenging non-league schedule helped prepare the Saints for a successful post-season run.

“You never really know what your season is going to be like,” said Coach Tony Jarjoura after the game. “We faced a lot of adversity. I scheduled a very tough pre-season on purpose, and it looks as if it paid off.

“We played some of the top teams in the county: Los Alamitos, Woodbridge, all kinds of teams. I’m just happy. We just keep trying to build the foundation and every day do the right things to prepare ourselves and it’s worked out so far.”

Santa Ana (16-16 overall) was able to advance to the finals with a victory over Estancia, a team it split with during the regular season. The Saints’ shots weren’t falling in the third quarter but they started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run and showed determination down the stretch to advance.

“I was hoping we would meet up with Orange in the championship too,” Jarjoura said. “It was exciting, we split them (the league games) this season so it was kind of that last tie-breaker. I’m glad it played out the way it was. It wasn’t a blowout one way or another and there was a lot of competition and it was exciting all the way up until the end.”

Santa Ana will be going against a talented LA Price team, which defeated Workman 60-41 in the other semifinal. Price (14-2) won the Harbor League with a 4-0 record. Price defeated Orange from the Orange Coast League 53-45 in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Price had a first round bye, then defeated West Valley 58-48 in the second round.

Santa Ana defeated Beacon Hill 50-13 in the first round, Lutheran LaVerne 50-21 in the second round and Magnolia 55-41 in the quarterfinals.

Both Price and Santa Ana are headed to the state tournament which begins next week.

For photos and game story from Wednesday’s semifinals, click here:

–Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone;