KEZAR PAVILION — The final game for the CIF San Francisco Section girls basketball tournament is set.
With a 67-53 win over the Mission Bears for the Lowell Cardinals, and a 62-53 win over the Washington Eagles by the LincolnMustangs on Tuesday night, the pair will match up against each other to decide the winner of the Academic AthleticAssociation girls basketball title on Feb. 22.
“I’m super excited,” said Mustangs center Lily Donovan, who scored 19 points. “It was tough out there tonight but it’s a great opportunity for us.”
The first game on the schedule for Tuesday night at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco was between the Cardinals and the Bears, as the two met for the third time this season.
Holding the season series with wins in both previous matchups against Mission, Lowell jumped out to an early, double-digit lead in the first half, out scoring the Bears 36-19 at the break.
Leading the way for Lowell were senior forward Sammy Quach and senior guard KD Lee, who each scored eight in the first 16minutes of the game.
For the Cardinals, creating turnovers and crashing the glass against a Mission team with a drastic height advantage was key as running in transition led to easy baskets.
“Our message is alway push the pace,” said Lowell head coach Matt Magsanay. “We work it constantly, how to get the ball out and push, push, push.”
For the Cardinals, a 19-14 third quarter would extend their lead even further. But against the chippy and desperate Bears ,Lowell would have to weather a Mission comeback bid.
Down by 15 with two minutes to go, the Bears would close the gap to as few as nine points. Fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from forward Lovely Sonnier, who would wind up with a game-high 21 points, Mission didn’t go away easily.
Lowell had a closer of their own, however, as senior guard Aly Lee would score seven of her eventual 18 points in the fourth.
“My teammates encouraged me to take shots and not be afraid to miss,” Aly Lee said. “Early tonight I wasn’t really aggressive offensively so my teammates helped me come out of my shell.”
After weathering the Mission run, Lowell would wind up coasting to a 67-53 win, securing their spot in the finals.
The Mustangs didn’t have things so easy in the second game of the night.
After jumping out to a quick 14-8 lead in the first quarter, Lincoln’s lead didn’t last long as Washington rallied to tie the game at 28 by halftime.
A big part of what played into Washington’s run was the fact that Donovan, Lincoln’s 6-foot-1 center, ran into foul trouble at the beginning of the second, keeping the game’s leading scorer on the bench.
In the second half, with Donovan back on the floor, the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth to flip the game in their favor.
“That was really the turning point of the game,” Lincoln head coach Jason Lee said. “It changed the game.”
With a 10-point lead in their pocket, the Mustangs, too, would ride out the fourth quarter to victory, taking out Washington,62-53.