May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Whittier Christian wins a physical battle over Tustin 38-34 to advance in CIF playoffs

Whittier Christian players celebrate after Saturday’s playoff victory. (Photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

Whittier Christian’s girls basketball team staved off a late charge by Tustin and held on for a 38-34 victory over the Tillers in the second round of the CIF 2A playoffs Saturday night at Tustin.

The Heralds (25-4) move on to the quarterfinal round Tuesday night vs. Burroughs/Burbank at Whittier Christian in La Habra.

The game was a defensive battle from the start and featured lots of fouls on both teams. In the end, Whittier Christian had more offense, led by sophomore Aidan Sherfey, who took over the game in the third quarter scoring all 12 of her team’s points. She wound up with 16 points.

Joleen Corona added nine points for Whittier Christian.

There were plenty of loose balls and lots of scrambles for the ball on the court.

“We’ve been preaching to them all year the tenacity and intensity on both ends of the floor, people under-estimate us because we’re small,” said Whittier Christian Coach Whitley Brown. “You got to make up for that somehow. In practice, it’s a war in games we try and continue that energy and they did that tonight, it was really great.

“I told them go in and expect no foul calls, espect to be pushed around, just come out and give your best effort and that’s what they did.”

Tustin, the Empire League champion, was led by Ahzira Faletoi, who scored 10 points and Zoey Barajas, who had eight points. The Heralds were able to hold one of the Tillers top players Alyssa Norada, to six points.

Whittier Christian had a 19-17 halftime lead and led 31-30 after three quarters.

The Heralds increased their lead to four and Tustin (23-6) had a couple chances to get closer, but could not convert.

“I thought defensively in the first half, we did, not a great job, but we kind of understood personnel a little bit, we had a couple mix-ups on match-ups and gave up some uncontested shots,” said Tustin Coach Claire Gocke. “But number 14 (Sherfey) just tore us up in the third quarter. She had all 12 of their points and we were trying to make adjustments.

“She finished with 16 tonight which is about twice her average. We didn’t have an answer for her. We ran a lot more sets than we’ve normally run. I don’t know if that contributed to not being able to get into the flow offensively. Ahzirah Faletoi stepped up, she had 10 and Zoey Barajas, always plays solid on both ends of the floor. They did a better job of takling Alyssa out of the game and holding her to six points and face guarding her a lot of the time and making sure she didn’t get into any offensive rhythm.

“I expected it to be a physical game. I didn’t expect all of those calls that were made on both ends of the floor.”

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