SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – The road to being a champion isn’t always easy. Part of the journey is dealing with adversity, taking the other team’s best shot and overcoming it. The San Juan Hills girls basketball team took another step in that journey as it continues to learn how to get to that championship plateau.
After being down 12 points in the first quarter, Anna Shreeve jumpstarted the Stallions with 15 points and three steals in the second quarter, and Amanda Edwards put San Juan Hills ahead for the last time in a back-and-forth fourth quarter to defeat visiting Fairmont Prep, 49-48, in a CIF-SS Division 2AA quarterfinal at San Juan Hills High School.
The No. 4 seed Stallions (25-5) will host Hart of Newhall in the Division 2AA semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 11. It is San Juan Hills’ first trip to the CIF-SS semifinals.
“We knew coming in this was going to be a dogfight, and they came out and punched us in the mouth,” San Juan Hills coach Paul Edwards said. “I really believe – being down 10 to San Clemente, being down against Downey – there’s no panic. They just said, ‘all right. There’s work to do. We’ve got to dig our way out.’ They did that, and it started with Anna in that second quarter. Just changed the game.”
After Fairmont Prep (17-12) opened with a 16-4 lead in the first quarter, San Juan Hills engaged in a full-court zone press to open the second quarter with Shreeve as the spearhead. Shreeve scored the Stallions’ first 15 points of the quarter, including an 11-2 run with two steals and lay-ups and two 3-pointers to cut Fairmont Prep’s lead to one point.
“We went to a zone,” Coach Edwards said. “We started to mix it up a little more and throw them off a bit, and it was hard in the first quarter because so much of what we do is apply pressure and press. When you can’t score, it’s hard to press. We got a couple buckets and we were able to set up in the press.”
In the third quarter, after back-to-back 3-pointers from Amanda Edwards, Shreeve converted another steal into a breakaway lay-up to put San Juan Hills ahead for the first time, 33-32, with 1:18 remaining in the quarter. Shreeve finished with a game-high 22 points and seven steals.
“She’s such a dynamic player,” Coach Edwards said. “Such great athleticism. Gets to the rim. Hits some big shots. Hit a big three (in the second quarter), and she hasn’t shot a lot of threes this year. So proud of her.”
The fourth quarter saw six lead changes, with Fairmont Prep knocking down big 3-pointers to quiet a lively San Juan Hills crowd. Amanda Edwards answered the last of the Huskies’ 3-pointers with her own dagger from beyond the arc to put San Juan Hills ahead for good, 45-44.
Kylie Ward put the Stallions back up by three points in the final seconds, and San Juan Hills held off one more Fairmont Prep attempt from deep to lock down the win and head to the semifinals.
San Juan Hills won its second consecutive South Coast League championship this season, and after a first-round bye, the Stallions beat Downey in the second round, 52-43, on Saturday, Feb. 11.