Lady Mustangs heading to first CIF hoops finals


Otay Ranch players celebrate Wednesday's Division II girls basketball semifinal win that landed the team into the school's first CIF championship game. Photo by Phillip Brents

There’s a first time for everything and that includes the Otay Ranch High School girls basketball team advancing to its first San Diego Section championship game.

The top-seeded Lady Mustangs survived a 10-2 run by fifth-seeded Mission Vista that left the hosts with a four-point deficit late in the third quarter by turning the tables on the North County visitors with a strong fourth quarter to prevail, 55-49, in Wednesday’s Division II semifinal game.

Otay Ranch (24-7) will play second-seeded Lincoln (22-7) in Friday’s division final at San Marcos High School. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m.

“It was a tough win — it was a team win,” Lady Mustangs coach Rene Barrera said. “The girls put in the effort. They have the heart to do it. It’s the first time in Otay Ranch history they’re going to the finals.”

The hosts were forced to play catch-up throughout the contest after trailing by seven points early on due to unforced errors and poor shooting.

Otay Ranch rebounded with an 8-0 run to lead 17-16 midway through the second quarter and led, 29-28, at the half.

But the Lady Timberwolves (18-10) set the pace in the third quarter to build a 42-38 lead.

Otay Ranch reserved its best basketball for the finish by out-scoring Mission Vista, 15-7, in the final quarter.

Otay Ranch’s Kikayla Maglalang (11) drives down the court during during the team’s furious fourth quarter comeback. Photo by Phillip Brents

The final five minutes on the playing court were frantic.

Senior captain Lynette Garon made a steal and key lay-in with 4:51 left to put her team ahead, 47-46, on the scoreboard.

Senior Jessica Kyle followed with her second trey of the quarter to make the score 50-48. Kyle then sank two free throws to up the lead to 52-48.

Garon followed with another basket on an inside drive and Otay Ranch led 54-48 after a spirited 14-6 run.

But the visitors, who had displayed a penchant for sinking treys in the first half, remained within striking distance.

Garon sank a free throw with 50.6 seconds left to give the hosts a six-point cushion. Surprisingly, the Lady T-Wolves did not press the action in the waning moments and the Lady Mustangs were able to run out the final 20 seconds before fans flooded the court to celebrate with the winning team.

Kyle finished the game with 14 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, while Garon tacked on 13 points, including five in the final frame.

Sophomore Aramis Gonzalez led Otay Ranch in scoring in the game with 18 points. Classmate Makosha Pendergraft contributed five points in the second quarter.

Kiara Cassidy led Mission Vista with 12 points.