May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

University finishes strong and defeats Irvine 69-53 to capture second straight PCL championship

University’s girls basketball team along with head coach Nicole Bradshaw and assistant coach Bob Bernal celebrate after Friday’s victory.

University High’s girls basketball team turned back an upset bid by Irvine to capture a 69-53 Pacific Coast League victory Friday night and claim its second consecutive league title.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

The visiting Trojans led 35-27 at halftime but Irvine opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run to move ahead 38-35.

But University, behind the 26-point performance of Malia Goldsmith, regrouped, regained the lead and outscored the Vaqueros 21-11 in the final quarter to win it, capturing its 18th league win in a row over two seasons.

“It feels great,” said University Coach Nicole Bradshaw. “Irvine is a great team. They have everything you need to be a good team: they have the inside, the outside, the scoring. Kaitlyn Luu is an amazing player and I don’t want to take that away from them but we played as a team.

“Everybody is contributing: our inside and our outside, and we did well on the rebounding. We had big scoring when it counted. We got Kaitlyn in foul trouble which really helped, because she went out and we went on that run.”

University (18-8, 8-0) has a three game lead over second place Irvine (12-14, 5-3) with two games left in the regular season.

University also got strong efforts from Claire Kawata (14 points, four 3-pointers), Aryn Press (13 points) and Kaylor Chott (nine points).

Irvine was led by Lika Amino with 16 points, Jackie Chavez (11 points) and Luu (10 points).

In the end, Goldsmith was the difference. Goldsmith had missed games earlier this year with a fractured bone in her left hand, but she showed no ill effects Friday night. There was fear at first that she might miss the rest of the season but she returned to lead the Trojans to the title run.

“It’s been kind of rough just sitting but it’s good to be back and I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “It’s a little sore, but if I can play, I can play, so that’s all that matters.”

Goldsmith said the Trojans’ teamwork paid off.

“Our defense was very key for us,” she said.

Irvine showed promise at times, but Coach Sam Davis wasn’t satisifed with the overall effort.

“I just don’t think that we executed well at all,” he said. “I felt mentally we just gave in. We didn’t show up in that fourth quarter and let mistakes bring us down instead of being able to overcome those mistakes. But it’s part of the maturation process.

“We just have to become a more mature team and stick together and be positive. We will be OK. I think a lot of it is mental. You just have to come out and play. They knew what to do. We just didn’t do it. And I felt turnovers cost us. We work hard on defense to get a turnover, then we turn right back around and give it to them.

“But you’re going to have games like this. I told the girls we will be fine. I want to see how they respond after this. And that’s a mark of a good team how you respond. If Michael Jordan can lose a game, they can lose a game.”

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