IRVINE — Crean Lutheran High’s girls basketball team served notice Wednesday, April 14 that it will be ready for the new playoff divisions this spring.
Junior guard Taylor Feldman scored 39 points and sophomore forward Maya Bland added 21 rebounds as the host Saints defeated visiting Bonita of La Verne 58-47 in a nonleague game between CIF Division 2AA contenders.
— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) April 15, 2021
Crean Lutheran (4-2) transitions this season to Division 2AA from Division 3AA, the group it almost captured last year, falling to Santa Monica 44-40 in the championship.
Bonita (2-1) returns three returners starters from a squad that reached the second round of the 2AA playoffs last season and is the defending co-champion of the Palomares League.
Some observes in the county believed Wednesday’s game would provide a better read on Crean Lutheran’s status in the division, plus the chances for teams such as Tesoro, San Juan Hills, Tustin, Orange Lutheran, Brea Olinda, Canyon and Corona del Mar among others.
“It’s a great win for us,” said Feldman, who scored 22 points in the second half. “And great to see that it’s not like a huge, ‘Oh, no, we’re in Division 2AA.’ We can beat teams. We got this. We just need to build that confidence up, and then we’ll be perfectly fine.”
Crean Lutheran’s opening to the second half will certainly help with confidence. After Bonita’s Lauryn Urend sank a 3-pointer from the corner just before the halftime buzzer to trim the Saints’ lead to 30-24, Crean Lutheran started the third period with an 11-0 run.
Feldman scored first off a backdoor cut and dish from fellow junior guard Emily Reed, who finished with 12 points. The speedy guard then grabbed a long rebound off a 3-point attempt and raced for the layup.
But the trademark of the surge was Crean Lutheran’s defensive pressure, and press that ignited its fast-break. Bland and Feldman anchored the defense with multiple steals.
“They work so well together,” said Crean Lutheran coach Bianca Ziemann, who started two sophomores, two juniors and a senior. “We’re very young but every game we’re getting better and better, and that’s what I’m most proud of. Our defense did great tonight.”
The Saints, ranked No. 16 in Orange County, were especially effective slowing on Bryanna Graham, Bonita’s leading scorer on the early season. She scored all 12 of her points in the second half. Alisha Wilson led Bonita with 13 points and provided a strong presence in the post.
Feldman took care of the offense, using multiple fakes to attack the basket for layups and floaters. She nearly matched her season-high of 43 points without sinking a 3-pointer.
Bonita coach Taylor Anderson said rebounding and guarding Feldman were problematic.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” Anderson said. “You have to make sure that your help-side (defense) is there. … She’s the best guard that we’ve faced so far.”
Reed sank two 3-pointers in the first period to help the Saints open a 17-6 lead. Senior Maddie Snyder added one of her two field-goals for the Saints in the opening quarter.
In other games:
No. 6 Fairmont Prep 44, No. 10 San Clemente 12: Mia Yamamoto scored 12 points to lead the host Huskies past the Tritons, who were missing three starters.
No. 24 Anaheim 60, No. 22 Santiago 55: Serena Ileleji scored 26 points to pace the visiting Colonists (5-3).
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