ORANGE — The Orange Lutheran girls basketball team was trailing at halftime in its CIF Southern Section semifinal against Chaminade on Saturday night, and that make-or-break moment seemed to bring out the best in the Lancers.
They shot 60 percent from beyond the arc in the second half and scored 46 points in those last two periods to beat the visiting Eagles 78-68 and reach the Division 1 championship game.
The Lancers (23-7), who were the Division 2AA champions last season, will play Marlborough for the Division 1 title on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Honda Center.
“I am so proud. Seeing them accomplish what they set out to do makes my heart so happy,” Orange Lutheran coach Alex Helmage said. “They’ve been here before so it’s the same mentality.”
Marlborough defeated Rosary 63-44 in the other semifinal Saturday night.
Orange Lutheran trailed 35-32 at halftime Saturday but got hot from 3-point range in the second half.
Princess Cassell made five 3-pointers and had a team-high 19 points. Most of the assists on her 3-pointers were from fellow guards Kelly Garrity and Shea Joko.
“I know my strengths and shooting is one of them. I’m really confident in my shot,” Cassell said. “I have to give credit to the bigs and to my little guards. They put in work tonight.”
The Lancers ramped up their defense and rebounding in the second half as well. Orange Lutheran forced eight turnovers in the second half.
“They just didn’t want to lose. We’ve been in situations when things get tough,” Helmage said. “We practice hard for these types of environments and situations and they pulled through.”
Madi Bogan scored 13 of her 16 points in the second half and made seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
Taliyah Mcferson played well inside for the Lancers with 13 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Garrity finished with 10 points and dished out five assists. The sophomore guard dribbled her way through the full-court press of Chaminade and made two big 3-pointers in the second half.
Chaminade (19-13) stayed competitive because of the offensive duo of Alanna Neale and Hunter Hudson. Neale had a game-high 20 points and Hudson was dominant on both ends with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
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The Eagles were the second-place team in the Mission League this season and beat Mira Costa, King of Riverside and Lynwood in the playoffs.
Chaminade is in the Mission League with Marlborough and those teams split their two league games this season.
The Lancers lost both of their Trinity League games against Rosary this season.
“We’ve been talking about this since the beginning of the season,” Cassell said of reaching the final. “We want to go all the way.”