The Morningside High School girls basketball team appeared to have Huntington Beach beaten with six minutes left in the Southern Section 4-A second-round game at Huntington Beach on Wednesday night.
But Huntington Beach mounted a furious rally, erased a 14-point lead in a matter of minutes and gave top-seeded Morningside fits before falling, 75-70.
Morningside (27-1) plays Ventura (16-10) in the quarterfinal round on Saturday. Huntington Beach finishes its season at 16-9.
Morningside led, 62-48, two minutes into the fourth quarter, having taken control of the game by outscoring Huntington Beach, 25-12, in the third.
However, seniors Stefanie Pemper and Tami Chick brought Huntington Beach back.
Pemper made two three-point shots and Chick added another, highlighting a 14-1 run that brought Huntington Beach even, 65-65, with 3:41 left.
Morningside then reeled off 10 unanswered points in a little more than three minutes, putting the game away. Shaunda Greene and Carla Gladden led the Morningside run.
Greene, a senior forward, had 30 points, mostly on twisting follow shots in the lane, and 17 rebounds. Gladden, a senior guard, scored her 23 points on a variety of driving layups and long jumpers.
Pemper matched Greene with 30 points and Chick added 18, but Huntington Beach had trouble contending with Morningside's big front line.
Greene, who is 6 feet, and Lisa Leslie, a 6-4 sophomore center, were just too big for Huntington Beach, which does not have a player taller than 5-11.
Leslie had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, but spent much of the second half in foul trouble and on the bench.
Early on, however, Morningside did not take full advantage of the height difference and Huntington Beach remained close. The Oilers even pulled ahead, 42-41, with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Morningside Coach Frank Scott kept having to call time out to remind the Monarchs to get the ball inside to Greene and Leslie.
"We're tough to beat when we get the ball inside," Scott said. "It's what we've been doing all season. The girls got away from that in the first half."
Huntington Beach Coach Kathy Doyle had the Oilers well prepared for Morningside's inside game. The Oilers played an unusual 1-4 zone defense, having just one player guarding the perimeter and four others down low.
"We defended them as well as we could," Doyle said. "We really tried to squish them. They still got the ball inside. Their two kids (Greene and Leslie) were too big. There was nothing we could do.
"They just pounded the ball inside."
That was especially true in the third quarter when Morningside extended a 35-34 half-time lead to 60-46. Gladden created a number of easy chances with her drives. She had 10 points in the quarter.