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Weeks Ekes Out Share of Title for Orange Coast


Natalie Weeks has never been so willing to talk about missed shots as she was Friday.

Weeks missed twice in the final eight seconds but made a third try as the horn sounded, giving Orange Coast a 63-62 victory over visiting Fullerton and a share of the Orange Empire Conference women's basketball title.

It was the seventh victory in a row for Orange Coast (23-9, 11-3), which went 7-0 in the second half of conference play.

Fullerton (25-8, 11-3) had its 10-game winning streak stopped,but the Hornets still get a share of the conference title and the top spot in the Southern California playoffs because of a higher power rating. The pairings will be announced Monday.

Fullerton's Paola Flores (18 points) made two free throws with nine seconds left to give the Hornets a 62-61 lead.

OCC's Jennifer Ludwicki rushed the ball upcourt and when the Fullerton defense surrounded her, she threw a crisp pass to Weeks who was alone in the low post, a step from the basket.

All Weeks had to do was bank in a two-footer but the ball rolled off the rim. "I couldn't believe I missed that first shot," she said. "I thought 'My gosh, I just lost the game for us.' "

Weeks, a freshman center, got the rebound and missed again. This time, the ball bounced off the left side of the rim where Ludwicki got it, but her shot missed. Weeks got the rebound and pushed the ball over the front of the rim and after it fell through, the OCC players swarmed each other in the key.

It was the only basket for Weeks, who was one of eight from the field.

"When she missed the first time I thought we lost," Orange Coast Coach Mike Thornton said. "But it was about time we won one of these games. This really makes the season for us."

Orange Coast's three conference losses were by a total of four points. But the Pirates won at Cypress, at Santa Ana and at Irvine Valley in the three games before Friday.

"The real pressure for us was getting to this game," said Thornton, who won his first conference or league title in 18 years of coaching. He's in his ninth season at OCC after nine at Marina High. "I really like this group of kids. This has been really fun."

Fullerton held the largest lead for either team at 52-46, with 8 minutes 10 seconds to play. OCC's biggest lead had been 46-41 about four minutes earlier.

Ludwicki finished with a game-high 25 but was two of nine on three-pointers. She scored 14 of OCC's 31 second-half points.

In other Orange Empire Conference women's basketball:

Cypress 64, Santa Ana 59--Nancy Love and Heather Green each scored 13 points for Cypress (23-10, 10-4). Love made three three-pointers to become the Chargers' single-season record holder with 72.

Shanna Renken had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Santa Ana (17-9, 7-7). Rochelle Anthony had 22 points for the Dons.

Irvine Valley 61, Riverside 56--Heather Cunningham had 17 points and eight rebounds for Irvine Valley (22-7, 10-4).

Golden West 52, Saddleback 49--Becky Fraser had 23 points and 16 rebounds for Golden West. The Rustlers (8-21, 3-11) trailed, 49-45, with 2:50 remaining before scoring the final seven points of the game.

In Orange Empire Conference men's basketball:

Santa Ana 93, Cypress 86--Lohnnie Tape scored 32 points as Santa Ana completed a come-from-behind victory. Teammate Mark Saukkola had 22 points, including six three-pointers.

The Dons (19-11, 10-3) trailed 62-45 in the second half, but surged with a 33-8 run. A.D. Lamoureux scored 19 points and had 19 rebounds for Cypress (15-16, 6-8). Lamoureux set a school record for career rebounds with 612, surpassing Mark Eaton's total of 599 set from 1978-80.

Saddleback 71, Golden West 55--Scott Strelecki scored 21 points as Saddleback (11-19, 6-8) stopped a six-game losing streak.

Jonny Springer scored 12 points for Golden West (6-25, 1-13).

Riverside 80, Irvine Valley 77--Riverside blew a 19-point lead in the second half, but held on for the victory. Irvine Valley (18-12, 7-7) pulled to within one on a Mike Scaglione tip-in with 20 seconds left.

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