Vista Girls Defeat West, Head to State Regional Semis

Coach Chris Jones talks to his players during a Vista Murrieta timeout Saturday night. The Vista Murrieta High School girls basketball team...

Coach Chris Jones talks to his players during a Vista Murrieta timeout Saturday night.

The Vista Murrieta High School girls basketball team is moving on to the CIF State Regional semifinals after a hard-fought win over the Warriors of West Torrance High School Saturday night.

The Broncos’ 67-60 win in the second round of the CIF Division 1 State playoffs did not come easily. They had to deal with close officiating that resulted in more than 20 fouls in the game.

With a 14-point lead and still more than four minutes to play in the third quarter, both Bronco star juniors Brittney Reed and Jaelyn Brown had acquired foul fouls, leaving head coach Chris Jones no choice but to pull them both and allow substitutes take over.

"Usually you have a situation where you have one person in serious foul trouble and you have to kind of play around with your substitution patterns that way, but tonight it wasn’t just one or two," said Jones. "We had our whole front line that was out three to four minutes into the third quarter."

Then with under two minutes remaining in the third, Broncos senior Kali Jones fouled out of the game. Even without playing three complete periods, Jones still scored a team-high 16 points.

"[Kali Jones] was fantastic," said Chris Jones. "She struggled recently, but tonight she kind of got herself in a rhythm and I think her confidence kind of rose a little bit as she had that rhythm going. We gambled with her and it didn’t work out with when she fouled out, but it worked out from the perspective that she kind of held us together while she was in."

Reed and Brown returned to the game during the fourth quarter, after the Warriors came within five points of the Broncos. With the duo back in the game, the Broncos increased their lead to 14 points with just over a minute remaining in the game. While the Warriors made some key shots at the end, the Broncos were able to take home the win.

"So much of the headline goes to Jaelyn and Brittney, but we have so much more than that, and that’s why we’re as good as we are, and tonight was a night that really showed our strength as a team," said Jones.

Reed finished the game with 15 points, while Brown totaled nine.

"Jaelyn and Brittney in particular have played in the past in serious full trouble and done very well and tonight they did it again," said Jones. "They were out for a long time but while they were in, they did what they had to do to stay in."

While Reed and Brown were out of the game, sophomore Keilanei Cooper and junior Nasrin Ulel stepped up for the Broncos. Cooper scored eight points and Ulel scored seven. Junior Victoria Chea also finished the game with seven points.

"Our second unit was tough, tough minded," said Jones. "They got just enough done to carry us through. Our second group just played a great game and did just enough to keep us alive."

Second-seeded Vista Murrieta, now 24-7, will play third-seeded Serra High Tuesday at home at 7 p.m. in the regional semifinal game. Vista has already seen Serra once this year, and won that game 50-45. However, Jones said that Tuesday’s game will not be a breeze. It will be another tough match-up.

"The trouble with Serra is they’re similar to us in the way that they have multiple scorers," said Jones. "They’re very difficult to defend … they’re athletic, they’re experienced, they’ve got some high-level college players, so it’s definitely a tough match-up, but I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be in the semis."

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