HUNTINGTON BEACH — Edison High girls' basketball coach Dan Wiley had a smile on his face, even though his Chargers had just been eliminated from the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs moments earlier.
Wiley, you see, was pleased with the effort his team gave Wednesday against Etiwanda, but knew it faced a huge challenge in the No. 5-seeded Eagles.
"They are big and physical, especially inside, and we couldn't compete with that," he said.
Wiley had a point. Etiwanda didn't shoot lights out in the second-round game but the Eagles crashed the boards, scored on second-chance put-backs, and ended up running away with a 79-50 victory over the No. 12-seeded Chargers.
"They really killed us on those second and third shots," he said. "We didn't shoot particularly well but they didn't, either. Their ability to get offensive rebounds and score off them, was a huge difference."
Baseline League champion Etiwanda (26-2) led from the 4:38 mark of the first quarter until the final buzzer. The Eagles led, 19-10, after the first quarter and extended their advantage to 37-20 at the half. They did so by outscoring Edison, 12-2, over the final 2:48 of the half to build their 17-point cushion.
Edison (18-8), which played without starter, freshman forward Justine Modde who was injured during Saturday's first-round win over Chino Hills, opened the second half with a 7-2 run. A three-point shot by senior shooting guard Geena Gomez drew the Chargers to within 39-27 less than two minutes into the half.
Gomez's shot was set up by a steal by her younger sister, Loli Gomez.
Just as quickly as Edison had dug into the deficit, it was just as fast that Etiwanda was able to build the lead back up to a comfortable margin. Junior point guard McKynzie Fort scored four points and junior power forward Amy Okonkwo scored five points, during a 9-2 spurt. It was a three-point play by Okonkwo with 4:05 left in the third quarter, that capped the quick run that took just over a minute, and it gave the Eagles a 48-29 advantage.
Okonkwo scored 14 points during the third quarter which ended with the Eagles on top, 61-38. She led all scorers with 28 points. Geena Gomez had 11 points in the quarter for Edison.
Gomez, who will play next year at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, topped Edison with 22 points. She left the game 2:20 remaining and drew cheers from an appreciative Chargers crowd.
Edison, which lost several, key players from last year's team that tied Huntington Beach for the Sunset League championship, finished second this year in the league title chase.
"I'm very happy with our season, it was very successful," Wiley said. "We lost about 40 points a game from the players who didn't return to our team, and I'm proud of the way the girls competed throughout the season. We were in the Sunset League hunt the whole way, cracked the top 10 in Orange County a couple of times, and the girls gave it their all. You can't ask much more of that from a team."
In CIF-SS Division 1A second-round action Wednesday:
Ventura 36, Huntington Beach 35: Junior guards Paola Roa and Stephanie Louie scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, but the No. 12-seeded Oilers came up just short of upsetting the No. 5 Cougars (Channel League No. 1) at Huntington.
Huntington, the third-place team from the Sunset League, finished the year 19-7 overall.
Westminster 54, Fountain Valley 46: Senior guard Jasmine Matar scored 14 points and junior post Emily Krause had 12 points for Fountain Valley, but No. 9-seeded Westminster (25-3, Golden West League No. 1) was able to fend off a fourth-quarter comeback by the host Barons to advance to Saturday's quarterfinal round.
Fountain Valley, an at-large entry to the playoffs from the Sunset League, closed out a 12-16 campaign in Cory Clarke's first year as head coach.