By Ted Apodaca
Oxford Academy’s girls basketball team held a 48-42 lead over Legacy High of south Gate with just over two minutes left in the game in the CIF State Championship, regional semifinals. But the Patriots blinked and Legacy got a lift from senior guard Arianna Harper as the Tigers closed the game on a 12-1 run to win the Division 3 regional semifinal, 54-49, on Saturday at Oxford Academy.
Harper scored all 19 of the Tigers’ points in the fourth quarter and finished with 26 in the game. Oxford junior center Austyn Masuno, had a game-high 27 points, including 17 consecutive free throws, but the Patriots could not keep pace with Harper as she heated up down the stretch.
“We knew their player was Arianna, we did some things to stop her, but she just played a great game,” Patriot coach Dave Clifton said.
Clifton also noted that the defensively, the Tigers’ full-court press late in the game was effective enough to force the Patriots into costly turnovers and mistakes. It also disrupted attempts to get the ball into Masuno inside, where she had been effective. And the Patriots cooled off at an inopportune time.
“The outside shots just weren’t dropping,” Clifton said.
Masuno was fouled and then a technical foul was added to Legacy, with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter. Masuno converted all four free throws to give the Patriots a 44-37 lead. Harper scored consecutive baskets to cut the lead to 44-41, but Sophia Chan finished a fast break with a layup off a Mylee Madrazo assist to push the Patriot lead back to 46-41.
After two more free throws by Masuno gave the Patriots a 48-42 lead, Harper scored on a jumper in the key and then followed with a steal on the inbounds and layup to cut the Patriot lead to 48-46 and swing the momentum to Legacy. Harper tied the game with a driving scoop shot and gave the tigers a 50-48 lead with two free throws with 1:18 left in the game.
Oxford finished the season with an overall record of 29-3. After falling in the CIF-SS semifinals, to Flintridge Prep, the Patriots were given a berth in the state tournament. Oxford won their regional opener, 61-44, over Beverly Hills, which had won the CIF-SS 3A championship.
Masuno led the Patriots over Beverly Hills with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Chan had 10 points, while junior guard Angie Gagnon added nine points. Freshman Angie Choi and Madrazo each chipped in eight points.