Lady Monarchs cruise to the semifinals of LAVC Buddy’s All-Star Classic

A third quarter that saw Valley outscore San Bernardino by 28 points led to an almost 50-point blowout as the Monarchs opened their tournament with their largest win of the season.

By Edward Segal, Staff Writer

Monarchs at 31 to 20 in their second round with the San Bernardino Wolverines. (Photo by Adrian Ramirez/The Valley Star)

The Monarchs went up by as much as 52 points against the Wolverines Thursday, dominating their neighbors to the east in a 48-point win that will see them take the floor for the semifinals of the Buddy’s All-Star Classic.

Coming off a seventh-place finish at the Tom Gilcrest Invitational at College of the Sequoias, Valley College women’s basketball (4-4) got off to a hot start against San Bernardino Valley College (1-12) in game one of the three-day tournament. With five players finishing in double-digits, the Monarchs went on a 56-14 run from the middle of the second quarter to the end of the third and never looked back.

After making 12 substitutions in the first quarter alone, coach Monica Hang found a group led by freshman forward Chellsiea Benitez, freshman guard Juliet Jaramillo and sophomore guard Brianna Torres that played efficiently throughout the contest and led the team to victory.

“We can play a lot of players, they all have a lot of talent, but what group of five seems to be clicking together?” said assistant coach Rafael Camacho. “Everybody gets to play an entire game but early on you want to be able to play your best.”

Trailing 14-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Monarchs needed a boost to get them going and a freshman combo provided just that.

Freshman guard/forward Jordyn Jiron blocked a shot which led to a 3-pointer by Jaramillo, creating the spark that carried the Monarchs through the rest of Thursday night.

Jaramillo finished with 10 points on 33 percent shooting from downtown.

Talia Shadow, a guard for the women's basketball team, dribbles the ball away from the other team to the basket. (Photo by Adrian Ramirez/ The Valley Star)

To start the third quarter, the Monarchs forced three consecutive turnovers and scored seven points off the Wolverines’ errors, capped off by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Jackie Privado. Later in the quarter, Valley did it once more, scoring four points off of three steals in a row.

Outscoring their opponents 38-10 in the frame, the Monarchs blew the game wide open as they looked to advance to Friday’s semifinals action against Irvine Valley College.

Valley forced 12 turnovers and gave up only nine shot attempts in the third quarter, while scoring on 16 of their own 23 shots. Jiron, Privado and Torres scored 28 points combined during the period.

“Essentially, we don’t have a lot of height right now, so we have to play with a smaller lineup which means we have to use quickness and speed,” said Camacho. “We thought we could push our defense further from the basket and use our speed to make it difficult for them to throw the ball to their big players, to their post players. Once that started working, we found a way to keep them away from the high post. Then it was just a matter of continuously doing that.”

At the end of the game, Jiron finished with eight points, scoring them all in the third quarter, tallying five assists and rebounds, but turning the ball over six times. Privado finished with 14 points and Torres scored 13 points while also swinging the ball for six assists.

The Monarchs spread the wealth to many on the roster, including freshman guard/forward Leena Vo who finished with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. But it was Benitez’ performance that put the finishing touches on this monumental victory.

Benitez led in three of the five major categories off the bench, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven steals in 20 minutes. She took away any chance the Wolverines had on either side of the ball, putting the icing on the Monarchs’ largest victory of the season.

A play in the second quarter saw Benitez steal the ball from Wolverines’ Leila Michael-Makelfa, pass to Privado, grab an offensive rebound on the missed three, pass to Emilie Brugna, snag another offensive rebound and pass to Jaramillo who buried her second three of the game to give the Monarchs a 25-18 lead.

“To be honest, it’s been coming,” said Camacho. “It’s just a matter of getting used to playing college basketball, and she’s starting to find that stride, she’s starting to find her position at her height. Once she found a couple of opportunities, she got a little confident, she felt [that she] can do this, she just kept going to the basket and kept going to defend over and over, and after that it was a matter of being consistent.”

Valley will play Irvine Valley College in the semifinals, Friday at 7 p.m. in a rematch after the Monarchs lost by 24 in their first matchup this season.

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