The last two nights for Rolling Hills Prep junior Aly Maxey are perhaps the best examples of what this season has been like for this girls basketball team.
Maxey went to bed Tuesday with a fever and left school early Tuesday not feeling well.
To add to that, late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s CIF Southern California Division II regional final with the Huskies sticking basically to five-players, Maxey went down with an apparent injury.
“I actually hurt this ankle before season started, it is still not 100 percent healed,” she said. “When I fell, it hurt really bad, but I knew I had to finish the game.”
Maxey would eventually get up and remain in the game and in overtime, the Huskies were glad she did as she hit what ended up being the game-winning 3-pointer to send the Huskies (27-4) to a third consecutive CIF State championship game on a 54-43 win over Mark Keppel.
The Huskies will face Northern California champion Menlo School, Saturday at 2 p.m. at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
“It means a lot, especially to overcome all of the adversity that we’ve been through,” Maxey said of heading to a third consecutive state championship. “We just told ourselves, that we have to keep play and stay together. All of the outside business needs to be left out and when we step in the gym, it’s go time.”
The Huskies trailed 29-24 at the half and 39-34 heading to the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Huskies took their first lead, 45-43, since the opening quarter on a 3-pointer by Maddie Yamada.
Clarice Akunwafo later scored back-to-back baskets for a 51-47 lead, but the Aztecs managed to tie the game with 5.5 seconds left.
On the final play of regulation, the Huskies turned the ball over at midcourt, allowing Keppel to get off one final heave and Vanessa Aguirre’s shot hit the backboard and came off and hit the rim, sending a scare into everyone associated with the Huskies.
he game was tied 51-51 at the end of regulation.
After a ragged start to overtime, Maxey scored the only points for the Huskies for a 54-51 lead.
Keppel’s Catherine Dea knocked down a pair of free throws and that was it for the scoring.
The Aztecs had several looks at the potential winning basket. With 6.9 seconds left, the Huskies came up with the final defensive stand to secure the victory and the regional championship.
“We just needed to keep grinding and keep doing what we do,” Rolling Hills Prep coach Richard Masson said. “I told them, I really feel that with our conditioning, as long as we can hang around, we’ll have an opportunity to win.
“We made a couple bonehead plays at the end of regulation, but that happens sometimes.”
Akunwafo led the Huskies with 21 points. Tatum Tamashiro and Naya Stroud had 10 apiece. Maxey finished with five and Yamada had six.
The Huskies lost the Division CIF State championship in 2017 and won the Division IV championship last season.
“It feels very, very rewarding,” Masson said.