East County Sports

GIRLS: Sultans in line for title


EastCountySports.com staff report

EL CAJON – The Santana Sultans realized a sense of urgency in the second half on Tuesday to finally slow upset-minded host Valhalla, 46-30, in a key Grossmont Valley League victory on Tuesday.

As a result, the Sultans will play for at least a share of the Grossmont Valley League championship on Friday night against the Granite Hills Eagles.

A victory will give Santana no worse than a co-championship. Fellow contender Monte Vista has a tougher task with an evenly-rated matchup with the Steele Canyon Cougars that night, however, the game will be played in the Monarchs’ gym.

The Sultans led just 25-21 at halftime, then led by just five points after three quarters, but Santana turned up the defense in the fourth quarter, shutting out the hosts over the final eight minutes.

Freshman BELLA TERRY scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Sultans, while junior teammate LAKAILA AQUININGOD-DAVID added 10 points.

“I’ve been challenging my freshman Bella Terry to end this season strong and these past two games she has really responded and went back to playing her basketball and when she does that we play with more confidence,” Santana head coach JORDAN FRANEY said.

Senior AALIYAH STONE corralled 10 boards and had six assists for Santana (7-2 Grossmont Valley League, 12-14 overall).

“My assistant coach Emerald Branson and my entire team stepped up in my absence,” Franey said. “My point guard Lakaila texted me after the game about what happened and I couldn’t be more proud of us.

“We only gave up nine points in the second half to a talented Valhalla team who has upset some people this season.

“My kids weathered the storm and really stepped up down the stretch. We are battle-tested and it showed tonight. “

The Sultans racked up an early 19-7 lead in the first half thanks in large part to Terry, who had double digits in scoring by halftime.

“It’s crazy thinking how far we’ve come,” Terry said. “Every day we work our hardest at practice to get better for each game. We have put in a lot of dedication to be where we are, and we can only get better from here. I can’t wait for Friday night.”

The Lady Norsemen came charging back behind senior MIRANDA ALTATIB, who canned a pair of three-pointers, and ANGIE ORTIZ.

Orange came out strong in the second half, as well, drawing the Lady Norsemen to within 27-25.

Alkatib knocked down another three in the third quarter to help Valhalla trail just 35-30 heading into the fourth.

GROSSMONT 53, EL CAPITAN 50 – The Grossmont Foothillers upset the El Capitan Vaqueros to clinch second place in the Grossmont Hills League in Lakeside.

Junior SARAH HENRY scored 15 points and had two steals for Grossmont. She scored seven points in the second quarter and had six points in the fourth.

Senior ATHENA SOTELO had 14 points six rebounds and four assists for the Foothillers. She was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.

Grossmont’s ALEX PURNELL stepped up for a big game with 12 points.

“in the beginning of the game it was obvious to tell that we were very nervous from the absence of such a key player like Marissa Giles,” Purnell said of one of the Hillers’ top players. “However, at halftime, I feel like we all asked ourselves, ‘who wants it more?’

“After that it was all history and we began to play Grossmont basketball through amazing coaches that tell us to ‘buy in,’ and we did exactly that, which against such a good El Captain team, things like that matter, lose balls, rebounds, defense, are what we needed to do to win.”

Purnell also had nine rebounds on one of her biggest performances of the season.

“For Athena and I to play such a big game and do the things like trusting ourselves and our teammates. Our teammates trusted us which made this game so big because we proved to so many that were not one or two players. We’re a unit.”

The Vaqueros led by four at the break but the score was tied, 33-all after three quarters.

“Despite not having Giles (flu), players stepped up tonight,” Grossmont head coach GRACE CAMPBELL said. “We had three players in double figures tonight, showing a team effort. Alex Purnell had a great game for us, she was able to finish underneath the basket and rebound.”

In the third, ATHENA SOTLEO showed the moves worth of a veteran ready to take her game to the college level with her exception footwork off the dribble to drive past a defender and bring Grossmont to within 31-25 with 5:45 left in the quarter.

Late in the game, SARAH FUNK scored a crucial basket with a bank shot high off the glass on a pass from Sotelo to give Grossmont a 51-48 lead with 18 seconds left in the game.

The win will boost Grossmont in the Division II playoff rankings. El Cap was ranked second, while the Hillers were ranked sixth entering the week.

Sophomore KYLIE MEAD led the Vaqueros with 20 points.

El Cap sophomore SHIANA PERES added 15 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

Sophomore MACKENZIE CURTIS had nine points for El Capitan, which saw no shame in defeat in what was one of the best games all season in the Grossmont Conference.

“Kylie Mead steppes up for us tonight as well as Shiana Peres,” Curtis said. “Defensively, we didn’t do anything special and on offense (we) passed it to the next open girl. We saw glimpses of the team we are going to be.”

STEELE CANYON 48, EL CAJON VALLEY 36 – The Cougars earned a big victory to remain alive for a shot at the Grossmont Valley League championship with the win over the Braves.

The Cougars improved to 6-3 in the GVL, one-game behind front-runners Santana and Monte Vista.

It was the third straight win for Steele Canyon (12-10).

The Cougars’ chance at a share may be a bit long but a win over the Monarchs could secure them a home game in the first round of the Division III playoffs.

The Braves will also be looking to solidify their chances for a home playoff game in Division IV when they travel to face Valhalla in the finale on Friday.

CHRISTIAN 73, MIRA MESA 40 – The Patriots moved a step closer to a possible share or outright win of the Western League title by blitzing the Marauders in the first half.

“(We had an) awesome first half,” Christian High head coach VICKIE CARRINGTON said. “Kristin Williams was on fire. We were hustling, swinging the ball, getting out in transition and playing good defense.”

Christian outscored Mira Mesa 24-13 in the first period, then really pulled away with a 46-8 edge at the half.

Sophomore KRISTIN WILLIAMS scored 11 points in the first quarter, then had a pair of threes in the second quater.

“(In the) second half, we kind of lost sight of our game plan,” Carrington said. “The girls weren’t taking smart perimeter shots, we didn’t try to get into the paint or get out on transition.

“It felt like we just died down a little. Meanwhile, Mira Mesa hit a little spurt. We picked it up, but definitely not to par.

Junior SIMONE JAMES had 22 points for Christian.

Christian (8-1, 19-8) will face Serra on Friday in Tierrasanta.

FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 90, CLASSICAL ACADEMY 34 – Junior ELLIE TURK scored 26 points, while sophomore teammate ARANTXA FONSECA added 25 to lead the Knights to a win that gave them a perfect 8-0 mark in the Ocean League.

Turk made seven three-point shots in the game. She also had nine assists and five steals.

Fonseca had 15 rebounds and eight assists.

The Knights could be holding one of the top two seeds in the upcoming Division IV playoffs.

WEST HILLS 48, HELIX 30 – The Wolf Pack won their second-straight game, knocking off the visiting Highlanders in a Grossmont Hills League game.

LIBERTY CHARTER 29, PREUSS UCSD 14 – Liberty Charter improve to 7-2 in the Summit League.

The Lions improved to 17-7 and are headed to a top four seed in the Division V playoffs.

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