BAKERSFIELD – Up by 17 points, her team in complete control of the CIF girls basketball Division II state championship game, Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Jordan Adams admitted she was worried. She was worried at halftime that her team was too relaxed, that Carondelet might put up a fight, come out in the second half and put together some sort of rally.
Mater Dei had to fight off a furious comeback but eventually pulled away again to beat Carondelet, 58-43, at Rabobank Arena on Friday.
Mater Dei won the game by 15 points and had a 17-point lead at halftime, but the Monarchs saw their lead almost disappear in the third quarter. Carondelet outscored Mater Dei, 14-5, in the third quarter and was down by only six points early in the fourth quarter.
“I was worried at halftime,” Adams said. “We were too relaxed. I was hoping we wouldn’t fall too far behind or fall behind at all.”
To make the comeback even more remarkable, Erica Payne, Carondelet’s top rebounder and scorer at halftime, fouled out midway through the third quarter. Payne left the game with seven points and 10 rebounds.
Carondelet cut Mater Dei’s lead to six points, 39-33, early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Cougars would get.
Carondelet whittled away Mater Dei’s halftime lead after Hannah Huffman and Erin Boettcher asserted themselves in the offense. Huffman scored 13 second-half points after being held scoreless in the first half as Carondelet inched closer to Mater Dei.
“The first half just wasn’t my half,” Huffman said. “I just kept shooting the ball. Sooner than later, they started to fall.”
Boettcher made some clutch free throws for Carondelet in the second half and finished with 12 points. She scored eight points in the second half and was six for 10 from the free-throw line.
Carondelet was down by eight, 39-31, after three quarters and scored a basket to start the fourth quarter to cut the lead to six. But Mater Dei responded and built an 11-point lead minutes later.
“We just couldn’t close that six-point gap,” Carondelet coach Margaret Gatner said. “I thought we had a real good shot.”
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored a game-high 21 points with three three-pointers for Mater Dei. Jessica Duarte added 19 points on seven-for-13 shooting from the field. Adams finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.