Basketball: St. Monica girls to battle St. Paul in final

SANTA ANA, Calif. — In sports movies, the best two teams are usually destined to play each other in the championship game at the end.

Saturday night will be no different.

The St. Monica Mariners (No. 2 seed) girls’ basketball team is set to face the St. Paul Swordsmen (No.1 seed) in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4A final.

The Mariners have lost both games they have played against the Swordsmen during the regular season, their only losses in the Camino Real League. St. Paul has lost only once in league play.

Despite the lack of success against St. Paul, Mariners head coach John Skinner is not too worried about his team’s confidence going into the final matchup.

“I like our confidence level,” Skinner said. “We have a lot of respect for St. Paul and know we will have to earn a hard-fought victory on Saturday. But it can be done.”

Skinner said that to come out with a win, his team will have to match the Swordsmen’s consistency and “play a little smarter and under control.”

Senior forward Briana Harris, who won a CIF-SS championship as a freshman member of the Santa Monica High School Vikings, believes the team’s key to a victory is some consistency of their own.

“We just need to play how we’ve played throughout the year,” she said.

The Mariners won’t be making any major adjustments to their game plan in order to turn the tide against the Swordsmen, Skinner said.

“We both know each other so well,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is going to come down to which team executes and makes plays.”

While Harris and senior forward Melissa Maragnes are the leaders of the team, Harris understands that St. Monica will need a team effort to come away with a win and achieve her second CIF-SS championship in four years.

“We’re going to need everybody,” she said. “Different players contribute different things to our program, so we’re going to need them to step up on Saturday and make some plays.”

St. Monica’s last victory came against the Cantwell-Sacred Heart Cardinals, 49-45. St. Paul edged out their last opponent, the St. Bonaventure Seraphs, 41-39.

St. Monica will play St. Paul on Saturday, March 2 at Mater Dei High School, 1202 W. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana, Calif. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.