ESPNLA plans to take a closer look this week at the Inland Empire basketball teams that qualified for the Southern California Regional championship games Saturday at USC's Galen Center. First up, the Canyon Springs girls' basketball team in Division 1.
CANYON SPRINGS (30-3)
Location: Moreno Valley.
League: Inland Valley.
Resume: The Cougars opened the season ranked fourth in the Southern Section Division 1AA coaches' poll behind Mater Dei, Brea Olinda and Long Beach Poly. One of its two regular seasons losses came against Long Beach Poly, and Canyon Springs was later beaten by Brea Olinda in a Division 1AA semifinal. Payback came Saturday night in a regional semifinal, when the third-seeded Cougars stunned the Ladycats, 63-53, in Brea’s gym. For their efforts, they earned a date with top-seeded Mater Dei in Saturday's final at 6 p.m.
Roster: What makes Canyon Springs difficult to match against is its 1-2-3 punch of 5-9 senior guard Tear’a Laudermill, 5-11 junior wing Jasmine Johnson and 6-2 senior forward Sophia Ederaine. Laudermill, who has signed with Nebraska, is averaging 16.7 points, 5.3 assists and 3.6 steals. She has struggled with her shot the last two games, however, missing 19 of her last 26 field-goal attempts. Ederaine, who has signed with University of San Diego, provides a staunch presence in the middle that will be key against Mater Dei. She’s averaging 11.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.2 blocks with five triple-doubles this season. Johnson is averaging 13.5 points and eight rebounds. In three regional playoffs games, she’s averaging 17 points.
Reality: Canyon Springs could be catching the Monarchs at the right time. Jordan Adams and Alexas Williamson, the starting backcourt for Mater Dei, are reported to be out for the season. Adams, a 6-foot junior point guard, injured her left shoulder in a quarterfinal victory against Santa Monica and did not play in the semifinal win against Harbor City Narbonne. Williamson, a 5-9 junior shooting guard, underwent appendectomy surgery last week and missed the last three games. Alexyz Vaioletama picked up some of the slack against Narbonne, totaling 29 points and 19 rebounds. Vaioletama, a 6-1 center who has signed with USC, will meet her match in Ederaine.
Result: Canyon Springs 67, Mater Dei 65.