Los Angeles Preps: Taylor Spears

ANAHEIM -- Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said that without a doubt, his team's rivalry with Brea Olinda is the best in girls' basketball in Southern California.

Friday night at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, the two teams delivered the kind of dramatics worthy of the rivalry.

Ranked second in the state but trailing by six points in the final seconds of the third quarter, second-seeded Mater Dei came from behind to beat the Ladycats, 54-47, to win the Southern Section Division 1AA championship.

It's the sixth section title for Mater Dei (29-3), and it denied Brea (24-6) its 17th in its 25th championship appearance. The Ladycats were making their first appearance with coach Kim Cram-Torres, who replaced Jeff Sink following his resignation. Brea came into the game ranked No. 11 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

Afterward, Kiernan had nothing but praise for the team that outplayed his for three of four quarters. But that fourth quarter -- that's where the Monarchs earned their crown.

"They did everything they needed to do tonight to win," Kiernan said of Brea, the team it defeated last year in the section and Southern California Regional finals en route to a Division I state title, "and we kind of came in and stole it. ... We started playing defense."

Nirra Fields, who moved into the area this school year -- her guardian is Lakers coach Mike Brown -- scored on a jumper with 2 minutes remaining to give Mater Dei its first lead since the first quarter. They had trailed by as many as six with less than a minute remaining in the third, but Fields closed with a 3-pointer to make it 39-36 going into the fourth.

Fields finished with 19 points, 15 in the second half. She was complemented by Khalia Lark with 14 points and Jordan Adams with 10.

Keitra Wallace led Brea with 16 points, and Taylor Spears -- who had previously attended Mater Dei before transferring -- had 11 points.

Fields was 2-of-3 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, including a pair with 15.3 seconds left after a technical foul; Brea called a timeout it didn't have left. Fields stepped to the line and gave Mater Dei a 52-47 lead -- and the ball.

And the championship.

Girls: Brea Olinda 49, L.B. Poly 43

February, 28, 2012

ANAHEIM -- Anyone who has played basketball long enough has likely been scolded at one time or another for failing to follow their shot.

Taylor Spears of Brea Olinda showed the importance of that Tuesday afternoon.

Spears grabbed her own rebound off a missed jumper with just over a minute remaining against the top-seeded Long Beach Poly girls’ team and laid it back in, helping the fourth-seeded LadyCats hold on for a 49-43 victory in a Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Brea Olinda will meet second-seeded Mater Dei in the championship game for the second year in a row Friday at 8:45 p.m. at Anaheim Convention Center. The Monarchs won last year’s meeting, 63-54.

“I knew it wasn't going to be easy,” said Brea Olinda coach Kim Cram-Torres: "Poly is so good and they're so tough. That's been my No. 1 concern: Would we be able to close out the game? I knew that we would be able to battle and keep it close. But the trick was closing.”

Spears, who finished with a team-high 14 points, did her job on her eighth and final rebound. As she moved in to grab the offensive board, she remembered another piece of advice.

“In practice, whenever that happens, coach tells us to go right back up,” said the 5-8 senior guard. “You have to gather yourself, compose yourself and go right back up with the ball.”

The basket gave Brea Olinda (24-5) a four-point lead after the Jackrabbits had scored four straight and appeared to be gaining momentum after trailing by nine to start the final quarter.

(Read full post)

LA North, OC: Brea beats Long Beach Poly in early national showdown

December, 6, 2010
The Ladycat Classic is often one of the most challenging girls' basketball tournaments of the month, and several teams stay away from it because it's too tough too soon in the season. Nobody wants to get off to a bad start in the first week.

There was no chance of that between Brea Olinda and Long Beach Poly. The two powerhouses held form and reached the 31st annual final, where Brea rallied for a 60-53 victory.

Brea (3-0) came into the game ranked No. 2 in the ESPN Fab 50, and Poly (2-1) was ranked No. 12. Then they provided the national-caliber drama.

(Read full post)