East County Sports

Monarchs get playoff win over Lions

Yasmine Al Asady, of Monte Vista. / P.J. Panebianco



By Dave Dickens



LEMON GROVE (2-15-2022) — It was somewhat expected that the Monarchs would take the first round, especially considering the Liberty Charter Lions did win their league, yes, but the strength of schedule, and the league Monte Vista plays in raises their stock.


However, it is a new season in the first round of the SDS-CIF Division III playoffs. The No. 11 Liberty Charter Lions (15-11; 6-0 Summit League champions) hosted the 12-15 team that had a 2-6 finish in the Grossmont Hills League, one of the most competitive in the county.


 The Lady Monarchs and the Lady Lions got right after it, only to be 13-11 after the first quarter of play with the visiting Monarchs by 2, but had already started to unfold as a defensive game, and that is always the Monte Vista head coach Sabrina Jimenez’s family recipe of press and even half-court man is where the Monarchs take control of the games and control the boards.


The added dessert is to get it to the best shooter, but in a lot of cases, the one who blocked or stole the ball could be the one who scores, as well, Lina DeLeon in this scenario as she put up six buckets in the first half. The score at the end of the first half had little offense, leaving the score a competitive 21-20 Monarchs lead. Let us not forget that Meadow Delino has also been on a hot streak since she scored her 1,000th point about a week ago or so added her two three-pointers to the total in the first half, as well.


The Lady Monarchs had their typical halftime adjustment discussion amongst everyone just executing in regard to their assignments.


Liberty Charter had a similar pep talk rest assured. They came out in the third quarter just as did Monarchs, fired up, a lot of talking on the floor from the host Lions to try and get inside the visiting Monarch players’ heads. It was an extremely competitive third quarter, physical as well as mental, but in the end, the Lions won the third quarter battle, 10-9.


The score going into the last quarter was 30-all. It was go-time, the winner moves on, the loser goes home and prepares for the next season or their next endeavor, no pressure.


Looking at the score to this point was not the best sign for either squad as many shots up to this point were going up, but most of them were not falling. 


Definitely not a normal occasion for either squad, but that stingy Monarch defense, super-efficient press typically led by one of the better defenders in the division, DeLeon.


The entire Lady Monarch team was playing good defense, causing turnovers, creating confusion, but up until the fourth quarter, the inefficient shooting was affecting both squads and their offensive production. 


Enter the fourth, and it was time for the Lady Monarchs to finish now, as that had been their Achilles’ heel all season long.


DeLeon and Yasemine “Yazzy” Al Asady, had enough of the back and forth they score, the opponent scores. It was time to play the solid defense they played all night and converted it into points. Al Asady hit a pair of buckets and the final breakthrough was DeLeon hitting a three-pointer, a bucket for two more. While the Monarch defense held the Lions to eight points, Delino added some insurance points, game, set, match. Lady Monarchs defeated the Liberty Charter Lions, 46-38.


“It felt incredible to win again, the crowd was pretty packed and loud, and they were talking all game, but at the El Cap game, it was so loud I couldn’t even hear my coach. I think my defense was solid all night,” said DeLeon.


“I feel honored that the Coach listed me as a player of the game. I was just so happy I could contribute the way I did. My mindset right now after this first playoff game is that we are not done yet. We still have some tough teams to play yet and unfinished business. What happened during the league was a preparation for the playoffs, so I am thankful for that. I want to compete in these playoff games and we all need to step up and minimize our mistakes. I had pre-game jitters of course but all I could do was hustle through it,” said Al Asady.


“Liberty came out ready to play. I told my girls they were gonna come out ready to play. They would give us their all, and we were gonna have to play all four quarters. I was so proud of the girls for playing through and executing my adjustments. They stayed focused even through our shooting drought. Defensively, we were causing turnovers, just could not turn their mistakes into points. Liberty kept the pressure on all night. The refs definitely let both teams play. We came out in the fourth quarter finally able to separate. Yazzy finished with some big buckets, as well as Lina leading the charge,” said Jimenez.


Next up for the Monte Vista Lady Monarchs (12-15) at Marantha Christian (15-10) on Friday Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

Monte Vista receives directions in game at Helix.


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