SANTA MARGARITA – Melissa Zornig may have been the best player on the floor Saturday night in the Southern California Regional Division III girls' semfinals, but Arielle Wideman was right there.
As in, right there when it counted.
Wideman, the Nevada-Reno bound guard for La Puente Bishop Amat, scored 17 points and had eight rebounds to lift the Lancers to a 58-48 upset of top-seeded Santa Margarita. Wideman scored 20 in Bishop Amat's 70-61 upset of fourth-seeded Agoura two nights earlier.
“She's a D-1 college player for a reason,” said Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard, whose 26-7 team will play third-seeded Inglewood (29-5) on March 20 at the Galen Center.
Wideman was part of the Lancers' 2007 team that reached the state finals but wasn't much of a contributor when it mattered. Things have changed.
“I had limited minutes, and to lead and be a part of it is great,” Wideman said after scoring back-to-back buckets when Zornig and Santa Margarita (25-7) rallied. “We tried to build a cushion. I just had to score, try to take over and be a leader.”
UC Santa Barbara-bound Zornig finished with 28 points. She scored 13 of her team's 15 points in the fourth, including a three-point basket and three-point play on consecutive possessions to make it 47-41 with 3:41 to go, but Wideman connected from 18 feet and then scored inside to bump the margin to 10.
Wideman also had a clutch supporting cast. Holding a 36-33 lead, Gina Henderson hit a three-point basket with four seconds left in the third quarter that ignited an 11-2 run. Zornig then scored 11 of her 13 fourth-quarter points in the final 4:20.
Henderson scored 14, and Leticia Galarza scored 15 for Bishop Amat, which out-rebounded the taller Eagles, 26-19. Galarza, listed at 5 feet 9 inches, gave up 12 points to 6-foot-4 Elise Lorenz but limited her to only three rebounds.
Bishop Amat led at halftime, 24-22, but blossomed in the third quarter when its smaller but quicker lineup started driving to the basket against the slower Eagles. Bishop Amat was 12 of 19 from the field in the second half, including six of eight in the fourth quarter while Santa Margarita was shooting seven of 14. That kind of performance will prevent a comeback.
Wiard had high praise for his defense, which was prepared by assistant Brandon Ertl. Andrea Villanueva and Vianai Austin made Zornig work for everything she got, and also kept her off the free-throw line: She was three-for-five from the line.
“Zornig is indefensible as [former Ventura Buena coach] Joe Vaughn said, but we did a great job on everyone else,” Wiard said.