Monarchs taken down by sixth-ranked Irvine Valley Lasers in semifinals of Buddy’s All Star Classic

Valley fails to match Irvine’s second-half offense for the second time this season, falling to a Lasers’ team ranked sixth in Southern California.

By Edward Segal, Staff Writer


Three after three went down for the Lasers as they ran away with the game in the fourth quarter, leaving the Lady Monarchs behind with their struggling offense.


Valley College (4-5) looked like they were on a mission as they forced seven Irvine Valley College (9-1) turnovers in the first quarter, but after keeping the game close in the first half, the Monarchs could not stop the Lasers from exploding in the second. Despite finding the recipe to compensate for the height disadvantage against San Bernardino on Thursday, generating many fast breaks against the Wolverines, the Monarchs could not do so against Irvine, getting outrebounded 47-34 and blocked 10 times.


Valley could not get in rhythm offensively, missing one open three pointer after another as the 40 fans in attendance yelled for the officials to call fouls on Irvine.


“Shots wouldn’t fall and they played that zone that got us spread out and took away spaces on the court from [us], so you have to find gaps and we did,” said Assistant Coach Rafael Camacho. “We had the shots, we had plenty of shots to make. Some nights it’s difficult because the shots don’t fall.”


It was clear from the tip that this was going to be a game of defensive stops with the first four possessions of the game ending in turnovers. Irvine, however, had 19 turnovers compared to Valley’s 15, and rebounding proved to be the driving factor in the Lasers’ victory.


Camacho said a lack of height has been a problem for the Monarchs all season with both of their centers injured. This problem reared its head in the form of 17 offensive rebounds for Irvine with nine points scored off them.


“[It’s] the same challenge all the time,” said Camacho. “The difference is probably the quality of the team you’re playing. You’re talking about Irvine, one of the top teams in the state. They have very good depth. [Their] quality of play does not drop too much [when they go to their bench].”


On the Lasers’ end, sophomore guard Morgan Higgins went for a double-double, scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the absence of freshman forward Sarah Matossian who provided the spark in Irvine’s first win against Valley. Sophomore guard Rachel Gafford had 15 points off the bench to add on to Higgins’ performance.


Out of the five players who ended in double figures against San Bernardino, only freshman guard/forward Leena Vo scored at least 10 points again. Irvine held three of them scoreless and allowed freshman guard Juliet Jaramillo to score five points, closing out on defense every time she had the ball. Jaramillo drew two offensive fouls in the game, looking to give the Monarchs momentum in the second and third quarter, but Irvine’s staggering defense prevented Valley’s offense from responding.


“[Jaramillo] is very courageous,” said Camacho. “She’s absolutely a great shooter so teams pay a lot of attention to her. Everybody has game films so she doesn’t get a lot of open shots, and if she [has the ball] people run at her. She’s gained a lot of confidence in herself. Clearly she’s going to keep taking charges which is not an easy thing to do because you know you’re gonna get hit.”


Freshman guard/forward Jordyn Jiron and Vo were the only players to gain traction offensively, finishing with 34 of the Monarchs’ 45 points. Jiron finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and six steals, while Vo grabbed three rebounds to add to her 15 points.


Valley’s shots were not falling, and ultimately, the Monarchs failed to contain Irvine’s high-volume scoring.


Valley will play for third place Saturday at 4 p.m. against the fifth-ranked Ventura College Pirates.