The Coast Union girls basketball team cruised to a first-round victory before bowing out of postseason play with a narrow defeat in the second round of the CIF playoffs.
After winning the Coast Valley League Championship for the first time (with a 10-0 record), the Lady Broncos hosted a CIF playoff game against the Newbury Park Adventist Lady Gators on Thursday night, Feb. 16.
In a low-scoring contest in front of an energized crowd, Coast Union scored six points in the first quarter, seven in the second quarter, eight in the third and just two in the fourth to pull out a 23-14 playoff win.
Despite some missed opportunities, and turnovers — both teams seemed to have early game jitters — Coast dug in when it needed some tough defense late in the game, and came out on top. Karis Lawson led the Lady Broncos with seven points, including a three-pointer in the second quarter.
Kaylee Ferguson and Ellie Kennedy each scored six points. Meg Stern (who does a great job with the national anthem before the boys and girls games) and Alondra Mercado each put in two points for Coast.
By coming out ahead in that first-round playoff and winning the coin flip (conducted by CIF Southern Section officials) for the second round, the Lady Broncos avoided driving down to Southern California in rainy conditions and stayed home to host the Santa Clarita Christian Lady Cardinals on Saturday night, Feb. 18.
In a nip-and-tuck, back-and-forth battle, Coast came out on the short end of a 35-31 score. The game was tied late 31-31, but Santa Clarita managed to control the last minute or so and pulled out the victory.
After the game on Saturday, I told the girls they should be proud of what they did and keep their heads up. They played hard, and it was a tough loss against Santa Clarita.
Bobby Youngs, Coast Union girls basketball coach
Even so, the Lady Broncos were more grounded in this second playoff game — they needed to be, because Santa Clarita Christian was a much better team than Newbury Park Adventist.
Ferguson led the way with 13 points, and Kennedy tossed in eight points for Coast Union. Stern and Lawson each tallied five points.
Coast’s passing was crisp, its defense was stout, and the players waited for open shots rather than forcing the ball up to the basket, which they had done in their first CIF playoff game.
The only senior on the team, Emily McAvoy, attributed the nervousness in the first game to the team’s youth.
“Being nervous made us play kind of sloppy,”
McAvoy said in an email interview.
But in the second playoff game, the players realized they weren’t going to get blown out, “so we played much harder and weren’t as nervous,” McAvoy said.
“We realized we had a really good chance to go all the way, and I don’t think anyone really wanted to lose knowing we had a really good chance to win. But losing was so hard. We were just four points short.
“It was harder for me than for anyone else because it was my last game, but it was still hard for all of us to have lost knowing we were playing a team that was maybe just barely better than Coastal Christian,” a team in the CVL that came in second (8-2) behind Coast.
McAvoy said it was “incredibly difficult” to end her high school basketball career with a tough loss, but the rest of the players will be back next season, and if they play as hard as they did in the second playoff game, she said she believes “they can take it all.”
Coach Bobby Youngs said in an email interview that his announced goal at the start of the season was “to win the Coast Valley League, and we did. After the game on Saturday, I told the girls they should be proud of what they did and keep their heads up. They played hard, and it was a tough loss against Santa Clarita.”
The team played some “hard games” at the outset of the season, and Youngs told them, “Just learn from those games and don’t get discouraged … and that was a key to winning league. This program is heading in the right direction … we are on our way there.”
Players who will be back with Youngs next season include: Lawson (sophomore), Stern (junior), Kennedy (freshman), Ferguson (sophomore), Mercado (freshman), Jackie Happel (freshman), Bella Raethke (sophomore), Nirvana Tesfayohannes (freshman), Autumn Rogers (sophomore), Olivia Hargear (junior) and Angelique Gutierrez (freshman).