Despite leading at 32-26 halftime, the Monte Vista High School girls basketball team wasn't able to fend off host Our Lady Peace Academy in the semifinals of the CIF Division III playoffs, losing 63-60 Tuesday night.
Trailing by 2 with 12 seconds left, the Monarchs worked the ball around looking for a game-tying shot. Senior Felicia Porter got a feed into the post, but her strong move to the hoop and shot fell off the rim, and was rebounded by OLP with 0.5 seconds remaining.
Another free throw from the third-seeded Pilots made the final score 63-60, ending Monte Vista's season, and in turn the high school careers of the Monarchs' six seniors: Porter, Abigail Vargas, Jazmine Bradley, Kayla Kulhanek, Sunceri Cofield and Alexis Wittman.
"If we finish around the basket like we should have in the first half, it’s a different game," said head coach Michael Skibbe." But the girls have competed hard all year. They’re tough. They work hard. They compete. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about my kids."
Porter once again led the team in scoring, pouring in 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in her final game. After the game, she and her other senior teammates were obviously saddened by the loss, crying with one another.
"I told them, I can’t make the pain go away. It’s just part of the growing," said Skibbe. "Every year it hurts. You watch them come in as these gumpy little freshmen that don’t know one thing from another, and they leave as grown up young ladies that are going to go do real positive things in their lives."
For OLP, junior Sophia Millay led the Pilots with 18 points, including two clutch free throws to put them up 62-60 in the games final minute, after Porter had tied the game with two free throws of her own. Kirsten Johnson added 17 for OLP.
Vargas and Bradley were the only other Monarchs in double figures, with 13 and 11 points, respectively, in their final game.
Despite the loss, Skibbe knows that this game is just a blip on the radar screen of his team, who finished the season 24-7.
"I’m excited for the girls. Abi and Jaz and Felicia and Kayla Kulhanek and Alexis and Sunceri, they’re gonna go do good things with their lives," he said. "They’re all honors [students], they live in our neighborhood. You know, these are our kids. These are great kids. This is just one piece of their life, and it’s hard. It’s hard."