Esperanza in mood to celebrate as it rallies for rare win over Brea Olinda girls basketball

ANAHEIM – Esperanza’s girls finally defeated their basketball dragon Friday night and celebrated as if they won a CIF-SS championship.

The Aztecs’ 54-53 victory against visiting Brea Olinda in the first round of Crestview League play felt that significant to sixth-year coach Jimmy Valverde and his players.

“Brea is Brea,” said Aztecs guard Jamie Kwong, who made four 3-pointers, including a critical one with one minute left in regulation. “We all wanted this for a long time. … This is the first time we’ve beaten them.”

The victory sent fact checkers scrambling for the last time the No. 4 Aztecs (15-5, 2-0) defeated the No. 3 Ladycats (15-4, 1-1), who won 183 consecutive league games from 1987 to 2006 before a loss to El Dorado on Jan. 13, 2006. The Aztecs hadn’t defeated Brea Olinda since 2006, so Esperanza certainly became the answer to a trivia question.

And Esperanza did so in dramatic fashion. The Aztecs rallied from a six-point deficit with 3:20 left in the fourth quarter.

Center Sam Fries scored the winning basket with 26 seconds left by tossing in a short shot in the post to give Esperanza a 54-53 lead. The ball seemed to hang on the back of the rim for several seconds before falling into the net for Fries’ team-high 18th point.

The senior then helped seal the victory by drawing an offensive charge against Brea Olinda on the ensuing possession on a drive into the key with 11 seconds left. The Ladycats forced a turnover in the final seconds but their final two shots missed and Esperanza rushed to center court to celebrate.

“I was just praying to God that it was going to go my way and it did,” Fries said of the charge. “I’ve lived in the area my whole life. I’ve gone to games and we’ve never beaten Brea. The fact that I was able to do it my senior year with this team, this coach. … Oh, my God.”

Valverde called timeout with 3:20 left in the fourth after Stephanie Lee scored a breakaway layup off a steal by Rilee Price to give Brea Olinda a 51-45 lead. Lee, a senior, scored seven of her game-high 22 points in the fourth to put the Ladycats in front.

But Esperanza chipped away. Sarah Youssouf (11 points) scored on a left-handed drive coming out of the timeout and Fries scored off an up-and-under move to make it 51-49. Kwong’s 3-pointer gave Esperanza a brief 52-51 lead because Price responded with less than a minute left with a drive to put the Ladycats up 53-52.

Kwong finished with 14 points.

Brea Olinda sank seven 3-pointers to take a 29-28 lead at halftime but made only one shot from beyond the arc in the second half.



Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.