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PREP BASKETBALL / SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Rosary Unable to Keep Up With Bishop Montgomery

Division III girls: Inconsistency, poor production from post players costly to Royals in season-ending 60-51 defeat.

March 11, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rosary went into Saturday's Southern California Regional final hoping to advance to its first state championship game.

The Royals hoped for a lot of things that didn't happen.

Needing outstanding offensive efforts from its post players, needing to play a consistent four quarters, and needing a couple of big baskets at crucial times, Rosary was left wanting in the end.

Rosary put on a furious fourth-quarter comeback, but lost to defending state champion Torrance Bishop Montgomery, 60-51, in the Division III regional final at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

The Royals' post players, Lauren Meyer, Jennie Asensio and Hayley Munroe, scored two points combined--both by Munroe--as they were unable to offset the offensive production of Bishop Montgomery's Noelle Quinn, who scored 20.

"Our posts needed to have a big game," Rosary Coach Richard Yoon said, "and it just didn't happen."

"I think we were intimidated," Asensio said.

Consistency wasn't a strong suit, either, for the Royals (24-9).

Rosary went the last 4 minutes 28 seconds of the second quarter without a field goal, and saw a 21-20 deficit reach 31-22 at halftime.

Jenise Karcher and Jen Farner were the only two Royals who scored in the first half. Karcher was five for eight from the field, and the rest of the team was three for 12.

Despite that, the Royals weren't out of it, and even made Bishop Montgomery (28-6) sweat a bit. Rosary used its trademark full-court press in the fourth quarter to get back in the game and almost pull off a come-from-behind victory.

But its fourth-quarter success hinged on what happened in the third quarter, and it wasn't good.

The Royals were whistled for seven fouls--and Bishop Montgomery none--in the third quarter. It put the Knights in the bonus for the entire fourth quarter, and kept them one step ahead of the Royals.

"Those fouls killed us," said Karcher, who scored a game-high 21, including 17 of the Royals' 22 in the first half. "Every time we fouled them in the fourth quarter, it was two more points for them."

The Knights were 14 of 16 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and that may have been the only thing that salvaged their night. They finished 18 for 21.

Rosary trailed, 42-29, with eight minutes to play and went into attack mode with about six minutes left. The Royals pressed Bishop Montgomery, forced some turnovers and missed shots, and momentum shifted. But there was little margin for error, and Bishop Montgomery was deadly from the free-throw line.

"We shoot free throws at practice, and we're usually not very good," said Quinn, a 6-foot sophomore who guarded Karcher in a box-and-one defense in the second half.

If free-throw shooting is Bishop Montgomery's Achilles' heel, fate was smiling on the Knights, who return to the state title game even though two of their top players, Brittney Thomas and Lauren Ervin, transferred to Artesia for this season. Artesia lost in the Division II regional final, 62-59, to Hanford.

Cara Enright scored nine points in the fourth quarter, and Farner scored 10 of her 16 as Rosary pulled to within four points, first at 46-42 with 3:45 left in the game.

"I thought that was it, the turning point," said Karcher, whose free throws cut the deficit to 50-46 with 1:45 remaining. "I had a good feeling the whole time."

Bishop Montgomery, which beat Rosary in the 1999 regional final, will play San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sacramento.

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