Knight advances to finals

PALMDALE — The Knight High School girls basketball team can now say it has something in common with former Knight player and current Indiana Pacers star Paul George.

The Hawks advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 finals with their 47-31 over the Pomona Red Devils on Friday at home. Knight became the first girls team from the high school to make it to the final round of the playoffs.

The only other team in KHS to make it to the CIF finals was George’s team during his senior year, Hawks head coach Danny Henderson said.

“It’s kinda cool for these girls that at the high school level, they’ve done the same thing that Paul George did at the same school,” Henderson said. “So that’s cool.”

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Highland makes history, falls to Villa Park

VILLA PARK — The Highland High School boys basketball team made history Friday night by playing in the first-ever CIF Southern Section semifinal playoff game in the school’s history.

But the outcome wasn’t what the Bulldogs expected.

Highland lost 71-55 to the Villa Park Spartans on the road in the semifinal round of the CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs. The loss ended a season for Highland that saw it stripped of its share of the Golden League title when it was revealed that an ineligible player appeared in 12 games.

After trailing by just one entering the second quarter, senior small forward Justen Miller – who scored 28 points in Highland’s 89-71 quarterfinal win over Windward on Tuesday – picked up his fourth foul and had to sit out the rest of the first half.

“The refs weren’t really showing me any love,” Miller said with a laugh after the game.

That threw a wrench in Highland’s offensive machine, and shifted the game’s momentum away from the Bulldogs. They gave up a 9-0 run midway through the second quarter and never recovered.

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Lancaster girls find winning formula

LANCASTER — During a tournament game in Burbank last year against Marlborough, the Lancaster High School girls basketball team was caught in a battle.

It was during fall league, well before the Eagles took the court against Golden League competition in December. The team was challenged by one of its assistant coaches, who said the girls got “punked.”

That seemed to light a fire in the belly of the team, sparking the Eagles to win the second half. From that point forward, Lancaster decided that it would no longer be seen as a squad that didn’t fight for wins.

“We didn’t want to have that as a character trait for our team,” Eagles junior point guard Sara Navarro said during a practice on Monday. “I feel like since then, we’ve been being more aggressive and being the ones that, not per se punking people, but just being the person to come out and do those things and not waiting for someone else to make those things happen for us.”

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AV slips in second round

LANCASTER — Three points.

That’s all it took for the Antelope Valley High School girls basketball team’s season to end Saturday against El Rancho in Round 2 of the CIF Southern Section Division 1A playoffs.

It was the number of points it took for the Dons to take a 42-41 lead late in the fourth quarter – their first lead since the opening minutes of the second period. El Rancho had trailed by as many as seven before that juncture.

It was how many points the Dons got on free throws when they trailed 41-36. Senior guard Brittany Corona was fouled on a 3-point attempt, made the first free throw, but missed the second.

The AV bench, however, stomped their feet during Corona’s second attempt, and was given a make-up shot by the referees as a result. She ended up making her last two free throws.

Three measly points.

“They were three points better than us tonight,” Antelopes head coach Deon Price said. “They just made a couple more plays than us tonight. They were the better team tonight.”

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Boron battles past Silver Valley

BORON — Silver Valley senior point guard Mikayla Surber had the hot hand in the first half. She scored 14 of her team’s 20 points, and seemingly couldn’t miss from the 3-point line.

At halftime, the Boron High School girls basketball team found itself in a 20-20 tie, and needed an answer to Surber’s offense. The Bobcats decided to make a tweak to its Box-1 defense and stepped up sooner on ball screens, switched the screens or trapped Surber.

In the opening minute of the third quarter, Surber walked up the court and drained a 3-pointer from so far behind the line, it could’ve come from Mojave. On the next possession, Boron fouled Surber on a 3-point attempt, and knocked down two free throws.

But after that, Boron’s defensive adjustment started to take hold, and Surber didn’t get the same looks as she did in the first half. Surber scored only six more points for the rest of the game, and Boron came away with a 43-39 home victory over Silver Valley in a wild-card game of the CIF Southern Section Division 5A playoffs.

“That was the difference in the second half,” Boron head coach Jeremeh Job said. “We put pressure on her. We never gave her an open look to the basket. She still had a few points, but they were certainly less points in the second half than there was in the first. That was the key.”

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Defense carries Desert Christian

LANCASTER — The Desert Christian High School boys basketball team used a tactic it’s relied on for the entire season to win its first playoff game: hard-nosed defense.

The Knights stifled Santa Clarita Valley International and beat the Stallions 74-50 on Wednesday in Round 1 of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs. Desert Christian on Friday will play Cuyama Valley, which won 74-57 over Lancaster’s Bethel Christian on Wednesday.

Knights senior forward Andrew Smith and junior point guard Ian van Boheemen each scored 14 points, while three Desert Christian players contributed eight points apiece. Three players each had five steals in a game where Desert Christian forced SCVI turnovers all night.

“If they can’t get the ball up the court, then we’ve done our job,” Knights head coach David Nurse said. “I always like the bewilderment on the other team when they don’t know what to or where to throw it.”

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Eastside misses the mark

CHATSWORTH — The Eastside High School girls soccer team’s season ended Tuesday with a 6-0 shutout loss to the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers in the wild-card match of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs at Sierra Canyon High School.

The Lions fell victim to Sierra Canyon’s aggressiveness and ability to keep the ball in its possession throughout the majority of the match. Eastside hardly got into its own attacking third, and when it did, shots were few and far between.

“They just didn’t bring their A-game,” Lions head coach Jessica Nish said. “They probably brought their C-minus game.”

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