Country Day has too much for Serra

ONTARIO -- Gardena Serra tried just about every gimmick defense in the book to limit the effectiveness of Kelsey Plum during Saturday afternoon's Southern California Regional championship playoff game at Colony High.

Nothing worked.

Plum finished with 23 points to help La Jolla Country Day take a five-point advantage at the halftime break and the lead ballooned to double digits in the fourth quarter en route to a 46-36 victory in a Division IV title showdown.

"Stopping Plum was one of our goals, but we didnt get the job done and it's disappointing," said Serra coach McKinsey Hadley.

With the victory over second-seeded Serra (30-4), top-seeded La Jolla Country Day (31-1) advances to next week's CIF state title game in Sacramento.

Plum was in the running for Gatorade State Girls' Basketball Player of the Year along with Southland standouts such as Santa Ana Mater Dei's Nirra Fields and Jordan Adams, along with Los Angeles Windward's Imani Stafford. Fields ultimately earned the honor.

"When teams focus on me, I try to get my teammates involved, that was the case tonight,'' Plum said.

After scoring 11 points in the first half, Plum got back to work in the third quarter. She scored a pair of baskets in the opening minutes and her play appeared to inspire the Torreys. The end result was a 33-28 lead to start the fourth.

With standout Rejane Verin on the bench with two fouls, Serra attempted to keep the score close in the first half. Deandra Toler and Caila Hailey combined for 11 points. The Cavaliers, however, trailed 23-17 at the halftime break.

Plum got off to a fast start. She knocked down a 3-pointer, was fouled in the act, and converted the subsequent free throw to complete the rare four-point play and give the Torreys a 11-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Toler finished with 14 points.