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For Oak Park, It's Arc of Triumph

Division IV-AA girls' basketball final: Eagles make 11 three-point baskets and turn back Morro Bay, 71-64.


LONG BEACH — The three most important factors in Oak Park High's quest for a first girls' basketball title were much like those in real estate: location, location, location.

The Eagles took up residence behind the three-point arc at The Pyramid on Saturday and bombed away with no conscience.

The result was a 71-64 victory over Morro Bay for the Southern Section Division IV-AA title.

The No. 2-seeded Eagles (23-5) made 11 three-point shots, often trading baskets with top-seeded Morro Bay (19-6), which took only one three-pointer.

A two here, a three there.

"We'll make that trade with anybody," said Lindsay Strothers, Oak Park's second-year coach.

At first, it was Morro Bay that looked right at home.

The sometimes intimidating surroundings had no effect on the Pirates, who were appearing in their eighth final in 13 seasons and claimed a 14-13 lead after one quarter before Oak Park's fast-paced offense and outside game warmed up.

"In the first quarter, everything was so new and we were nervous," said forward Kim Bryan of Oak Park, who made six of 15 three-point shots and finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.

"In the second quarter, we got into it."

The Eagles outscored Morro Bay, 21-11, in the second quarter to take a 34-25 lead into the half.

The lead grew to 61-43 early in the fourth quarter before Karena Bonds rallied the Pirates.

Bonds scored 13 of her 15 fourth-quarter points during a 19-6 run that cut the margin to 67-62 with 1:55 to play.

Bonds, the top player in the division, finished with 31 points.

The Eagles won their 13th consecutive game with their usual scoring balance.

Shir Raanan made four of nine three-point shots and scored 18 points. Holly Stewart scored 12 points, Jamie Rauchwarger added 10 second-half points despite playing with a broken thumb and Michelle Bregar scored nine points.

Morro Bay, seeking its fourth section championship, made 25 of 51 shots (49%) and outscored Oak Park, 14-4, from the free throw line.

"We knew those guys had been here every year," Strothers said. "They know this arena. . . . I just don't think they had enough weapons."

Oak Park's desire to shoot from outside was no surprise to Morro Bay.

"They did what they do best," Bonds said.

What wasn't expected was Oak Park's rebounding performance.

The Eagles, with no starter taller than 5-10, outrebounded the bigger Pirates, 36-32, and kept Morro Bay from scoring on easy put-backs.

Stewart had seven rebounds and Bregar added six.

The Eagles, who begin the state playoffs on Tuesday, made 45.9% of their shots.

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