The most successful girls basketball season in six years at Santa Clarita Christian ended with a flurry Wednesday, with the Cardinals scoring eight points in the last 80 seconds.
But an early onslaught of perimeter shots by visiting Linfield Christian, including seven first-half 3-pointers, were too much for Santa Clarita Christian to overcome in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinals.
Facing a 19-point halftime deficit, the Cardinals outscored their opponent in the last 16 minutes, but despite 14 second-half points from senior Payton Schwesinger, SCCS’s comeback bid came up short in a 58-44 setback.
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Payton Schwesinger had a game-high 22 points, along with seven rebounds, playing in her final game for the Cardinals (12-7), who reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.
“That was the best game we’ve put together all season, especially the way we played in the second half,” said Schwesinger, one of three SCCS seniors.
“It speaks to the work ethic of our team and being able to play the best we can with what we have. We just wanted to have fun and enjoy the moment.”
Linfield Christian (15-13), which didn’t qualify for the postseason last year, will face top-seeded Rolling Hills Prep (26-3) in Saturday’s semifinals. The Lions relied on 19 points from sophomore Sydney Moran, including 17 in the first half, along with 15 points from senior Kolbi Womack in addition to 10 points and 18 rebounds from sophomore Devyn Cope.
“I’m really proud of them. It’s been the signature of this team the whole season. We have a rotation of six, with four girls playing every minute, but they continue to compete hard and they play with a lot of heart,” said Cardinals coach Dennis Schwesinger, whose team won as many games in the playoffs as it had the past five seasons combined.
“The second half was a good way for them to finish.”
Kaleigh Moss scored 14 points, Megan Dombrowski contributed four points and 12 rebounds, with Mackenzie Kennedy adding two points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals.
“We knew we had nothing to lose. We just wanted to do this for our seniors and play our hearts out,” said Moss, who hit three 3-pointers.