Los Angeles Preps: Ed Torres

State Basketball: Div. III girls, St. Joseph 53, Bishop O'Dowd 42

March, 26, 2011

SACRAMENTO -- The Santa Maria St. Joseph girls' basketball team used a third-quarter surge to beat Bishop O’Dowd, 53-42, in the championship game of the CIF Division III playoffs at Power Balance Pavillion on Saturday.

Kelsi English and Brianna Bognuda hit a pair of key 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter to give St. Joseph an eight-point lead, 36-28. St. Joseph erased a three-point halftime deficit and outscored O’Dowd, 22-11, in the third quarter.

For St. Joseph coach Ed Torres, it was his second CIF state title. The first one came 20 years ago, in 1991, at St. Joseph.

“It’s kind of déjà vu,” Torres said. “Usually these games are low-scoring, defensive struggles. You never know when you’re going to get back. This team’s been resilient, been a lot of fun. It feels just as good today as it did 20 years ago.”

The game between St. Joseph and O’Dowd started out as a low-scoring, defensive struggle. The game was tied, 9-9, at the end of the first quarter. O’Dowd led 17-14 at halftime despite going scoreless for nearly six minutes in the first half.

“We can’t hang our head,” O’Dowd coach Malik McCord said. “We tried. We tried. It just wasn’t our night.”

Heather Madrigal gave St. Joseph the lead, 23-22, with a basket midway through the third quarter. But O’Dowd came back and tied the score, 28-28, with a little more than a minute to play in the third quarter.

St. Joseph scored the last eight points of the quarter to take an eight-point lead. Alyson Beebe’s basket gave St. Joseph a two-point lead. Then English sank a 3-pointer to push the lead to five points, 33-28, with 40 seconds in the quarter. Bognuda extended the lead to eight with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

English said she wasn’t confident with her outside shooting in the first half. Her 3-pointer boosted her confidence. Bognuda’s 3-pointer was “icing on the cake.”

“It was huge,” Bognuda said. “I knew I had to get open and I knew I had to nail it for the team.”

Beebe finished with a game-high 21 points and was 11-of-14 from the free-throw line. Bognuda scored 15 points and was 10-of-14 from the free-throw line. English had 11 points and was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. St. Joseph made 28 free throws in the game and had 37 attempts.

Oderah Chidom scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds for O’Dowd. She was the only player from O’Dowd to score in double figures.

LA North, LA South: St. Joseph 54, Gardena Serra 45

March, 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES – After frittering away most of a 16-point lead in the second half, Santa Maria St. Joseph needed something, anything, to stave off the tide that had turned against them.

Alyson Beebe provided that something. As the shot clock expired, Beebe dropped an eight-foot baseline jumper that might as well have been an ax to the gullet. Her basket with 2 minutes 10 seconds remaining bumped the lead back to five points and helped St. Joseph beat Gardena Serra, 54-45, to win the Southern California Regional Division III championship Saturday at the Galen Center.

The victory by the Knights (28-6) sends them to the State Championship game Saturday, 1 p.m., at Arco Arena. They will face Oakland Bishop O'Dowd, a 57-46 winner over Sacramento. It will be St. Joseph’s third appearance in the finals; it lost in 1990, but won in overtime in 1991.

Two weeks ago, St. Joseph had been out-rebounded badly and been victimized by Siera Thompson’s 28 points in a 66-58 loss to Serra (29-6) in the Southern Section Division 3-AA finals. This time, Thompson scored only five. Bria Richardson led Serra with 15 points.

Beebe, a 6-foot-3 junior and one of the top age-group players in the country, scored 17, grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked four shots and had two assists as her team won for the 14th time in 15 games. Heather Madrigal scored 15 and Kelsi English 11.

Serra had a 12-11 lead early, had fallen behind 31-15, and then closed to 46-43. That’s when Beebe hit her monster basket. “The bench started counting down, 10, 9, and I got nervous,” she said. “I was open. It felt good.”

The moment wasn’t lost on Ed Torres, who was coach of St. Joseph the last time it was in the state finals.

“That’s probably the most important shot of the year,” he said.

LA South and LA North: Div. 3AA, Gardena Serra 66, St. Joseph 58

March, 4, 2011

ANAHEIM—Gardena Serra sophomore guard Sierra Thompson was hesitant to drive to the basket early in the Southern Section Division 3AA girls' basketball championship game Friday evening against Santa Maria St. Joseph.

Standing in the way was 6-foot-3 junior center Alyson Beebe.

But her mentality changed after Beebe was called for her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter. Thompson drove right at Beebe with about 6 ½ minutes remaining and drew her fifth foul. Down by four points at the time, the second-seeded Cavaliers rallied with Santa Maria’s best player on the bench and pulled out a 66-58 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“I just knew she had four fouls and I tried to attack her,” said Thompson, who finished with 28 points for the second consecutive game.

Beebe, who is drawing interest from such elite college programs at Connecticut and Duke, finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shot but the top-seeded Knights sorely needed her contributions down the stretch.

“It was a pretty light foul that obviously hurt us,” St. Joseph coach Ed Torres said of the fifth foul on Beebe.

Before Beebe departed, the Knights appeared on their way to their second section final victory against Serra in the last three years. Santa Maria defeated the Cavaliers in the 2009 Division 5AA final.

St. Joseph led, 43-38, heading into the final quarter and still maintained a 46-42 lead when Beebe fouled out with 6:39 left. Thompson made both free throws, then hit a three-point basket on the next possession and the Cavaliers never trailed again.

“To be able to play with them was very satisfying,” said Serra coach McKinsey Hadley. “To be able to win is difficult to describe.”

The other player who scored in double figures for Serra was Rejane Verin, who overcame knee and ankle injuries to score 12 points and pull down 10 rebounds.

Tatiana Dunlap scored 14 points and Heather Madrigal had 11 for St. Joseph’s, who look forward to continuing their season in the Southern California Regional playoffs beginning next week.

“If we do what we need to do, we’re going to win games,” Beebe said.