ONTARIO — Thirteen proved to be a lucky number Wednesday night for the Ontario Christian girls basketball team.
A pair of 13-0 runs in the first helped helped the Knights seize control early on their way to an 81-54 rout of Brentwood in a CIF Southern Section Division 2A semifinal game.
The top-seeded Knights (29-3) advance to their third straight section final, where they will play at No. 2 Santiago on Saturday.
“It’s exciting to be in the finals for the third straight year,” junior Chloe Briggs said. “I think this year it’s really helped us with a schedule that’s given us good competition.”
One of those games was a nonleague game between these same teams at Ontario Christian three weeks ago. Ontario Christian won that game by a narrow 69-63, but that was without Briggs (food poisoning), while Brentwood was without junior Amber Furch, who scored a team-high 19 points Wednesday.
“That said a lot about the team to beat them without me,” Briggs said.
Briggs and senior transfer Shayla Gillmer combined to dominate the Eagles on Wednesday.
Briggs finished with 33 points on 9-of-14 shooting, while adding nine rebounds. Gillmer, Briggs’ teammate on the Team Taurasi travel ball team who has signed with BYU, scored 18 of her 27 points in the first half and grabbed 13 rebounds. Briggs and Gilmer played the entire game.
“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve been talking about going to the finals,” Gilmer said.
Ontario Christian actually started the game with a 13-0 run, holding Brentwood (21-11) without a point for the first four minutes, 11 seconds. When the Eagles closed to within six points in the second quarter, another 13-0 run gave the Knights some breathing room. Ontario Christian extended the lead to as many as 31 points early in the fourth quarter.
Height was one of the many advantages Ontario Christian had, with 6-foot-1 Gilmer, 6-0 Briggs and 5-11 junior Brooklyn Goedhart leading the way, the Knights held a 27-16 rebounding edge in the first half. Goedhart finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
Ontario Christian coach Matt Tumambing believes this time the Knights can get that elusive CIF title after coming up short in the championship games the last two years.
“We have more pieces in place,” he said. “I think last year, we had to wait and see what (finals opponent) Sage Hill was going to do. It’s different this year.”
The shots weren’t falling for Ontario Christian guards Madeline Martinez and Dejah Saldivar Wednesday, who combined for three 3-pointers and nine points, but Tumambing says they’ve been putting in extra shooting work that hopefully will pay off in the finals.