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Prep Girls Basketball Playoffs: Patriots can't keep up with Lions

HESPERIA • An early run by Providence Hall proved too much for the Hesperia Christian girls basketball team in the CIF-SS Division 6 playoffs Saturday night.

The Patriots exited in the semifinals with a 61-29 loss at home.

For Hesperia Christian coach Sally Orlando, the improvement from last year’s quarterfinal run with a roster that includes just one senior shows a bright future.

“When a loss happens like this, it helps the drive,” Orlando said. “Last year we hit the quarterfinals and we got stopped.

“This year, our goal was to get past that and win one more. Next year, we take that extra step and it puts us in the finals.”

The Patriots’ designs on getting to the finals this year took a big hit early as the Lions jumped out to a 16-2 lead, with 13 points coming from Sydney Hedges.

While the 6-foot-1 senior’s production slowed as the contest went on, she still finished with a game-high 29 points.

“My hat’s off to those guys, they’re good ballplayers.” Orlando said. “If we could grow a couple inches, I think we’d be right there with them. Our biggest kid is 5-8.”

Allie Bragg opened the scoring for Hesperia Christian with a basket three minutes into the first that made the score 3-2. They were the only points the Patriots would score during the game’s opening seven minutes.

Olivia Hough and Bragg added baskets in the final minute of the quarter to give the Patriots a glimmer of hope as they cut the lead to 16-6 heading into the second.

For Orlando, it became apparent that to keep pace, the Patriots would need to stymie Hedges’ production and Hough volunteered for the job.

The 5-8 junior, who finished with a team-high seven points along with Jeni Arreola, helped keep Hedges to 16 points over the final three quarters.

With her shots not falling, however, Providence Hall (18-5) simply dug into its arsenal.Senior point guard Lacey Gonzalez added 11 points, all in the final three quarters, while junior center Olivia Johnson matched that with 11 of her own.

“Lacey really did a great job of running the team and limiting our turnovers against a tough defense,” Providence Hall coach Ernie Quiroz said. “And I’ve been trying to get Olivia (Johnson) to call for the ball more down in the post and she started to do that.”

As the lead continued to grow, the Patriots struggled to find open looks and often settled for long jump shots. While Hesperia Christian made a trio of 3-pointers in the third — one each from Hough, Arreola and Elaina Hays — Providence Hall closed the quarter with a 46-20 edge.

“We’ve been his ghost team coming through the playoffs,” Orlando said. “We weren’t even in the rankings the week before the postseason.

“We had to plead just to show that we were a contender here and we got to the semis and proved it.”

Savannah Dobyns, Bragg and Emilee Helm added four points each for the Patriots (15-11), who finished in second place in the Agape League and won 10 of their 11 home games before Saturday’s loss.

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