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Rivals to meet for SoCal title

03/20/2015, 3:00pm PDT
By John Maffei

Trip to state championship is at stake when Torreys and Knights play

Bishop's Destiny Littleton shoots as Orangewood's Estafania Giner tries to block during the first half.

— On a good day, with a good pair of shoes, you can walk the 4.9 miles between La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop's School.

Saturday, however, two of the top girls basketball teams in the state will play 90 miles north at Colony High in Ontario with the Southern California Division V championship and a berth in the state finals at stake.

And the teams will take different routes to Ontario.

Bishop's practiced on campus Friday morning, then boarded a bus for Ontario where the Knights will stay the night in a hotel, have breakfast and go to the gym.

Bishop's, which is on spring break, also practiced at 10 a.m. Thursday to simulate Saturday's game time.

Trying to keep things normal, the La Jolla Country Day players slept in their own beds Friday, had a team breakfast Saturday, a light shoot around, then boarded the bus for Ontario.

"This just adds to the rivalry," said Bishop's coach Marlon Wells. "And when it comes right down to it, I don't think either team would want it any other way.

"One game against your biggest rival, on the big stage, with a trip to the state. That's what makes sports so great."

The teams split Coastal League games this season.

La Jolla Country Day (16-11), seeded No. 1 and ranked No. 71 in the state, was the victor in the first game 59-48.

Bishop’s (24-9), the No. 2 seed and ranked No. 82 in the state by MaxPreps, won 60-49 in the second.

La Jolla Country Day leads the series 25-6, winning 12 straight against the Knights between 2009-2013. But the teams are 3-3 the last two seasons.

"This is one of the best rivalries in San Diego, pretty heated," said La Jolla Country Day coach Terri Bamford. "It's always a good game, it's always very emotional when we play."

Since the 2005-06 season, Bishop's is 231-86 under Wells, including eight 20-win seasons and a 30-3 finish in 2008-09. The Knights won the San Diego Section Open Division title last season.

Bishop's lost to Mt. Carmel 67-65 in the quarterfinals of the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs, but were awarded a berth in Division V for the SoCal playoffs.

La Jolla Country Day is 257-87 under Bamford since the 2004-05 season, including nine San Diego Section titles and a 32-1 season and a state championship in 2011-12.

The Torreys lost 71-67 in the quarterfinals of the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs, but were awarded a berth in Division V for the SoCal playoffs.

Both teams have star players.

Bishop's sophomore Destiny Littleton averages 33.8 points and 12.1 rebounds. Sophomore Alessandra Aguirre averages 13.3 points and junior Layla Cunningham 13.2.

La Jolla Country Day junior Mai-loni Henson averages 17.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Sophomore Alaysia Styles averages 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds while junior Mariana Ecija averages 9.3 points.

"I don't know who has the advantage," Bamford said. "I think our bench is deeper, but in a game like this, your playing you best seven or eight.

"Our styles are very different. Bishop's is a head-down, get-to-the-rim team. We're a little more pass, look-for-the-good-shot club."

Adding to the rivalry, the sophomore Aguirre twins - Alessandra and Karinne - play for Bishop's. Isabel Aguirre, the twin's senior sister - plays for La Jolla Country Day.

"Terri and I are great competitors," Wells said. "We know each other so well.

"No one has an advantage here. We both won at home, we both play tough schedules, we both earned our way here.

"It's going to come down to who executes best on the big stage.

"This game is for a chance to play for a state title, but it's also for bragging rights in the LJ."




(2) Bishop's (24-9) vs. (1) La Jolla Country Day (16-11)

When: Saturday, 10 a.m.

Site: Colony HS, Ontario

Tickets: $12 adults; $8 students with ASB card, seniors and children.

Parking: $5.

Winner plays: Northern California champion - (2) Dublin Valley Christian (31-3) vs. Palo Alto Eastside (24-5) - at 10 a.m. March 27 at Hass Pavilion on the Cal campus.

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