CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The semifinal matchups are set in the John Anderson Invitational Division of the Nike Tournament of Champions, and although three of the four teams came in as favorites, they didn't get there without some drama.
Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.), ranked 41st in the POWERADE FAB 50, took on No. 19 Academy of the Holy Cross (Kensington, Md.) on Tuesday, and did so with its leading scorer, junior Karlie Samuelson, playing with a severely sprained ankle, making the Chargers even bigger underdogs.
Edison coach Dan Wiley's worst fears came true early as Holy Cross jumped out to a 21-11 lead in the first quarter. But even a one-legged Samuelson can shoot; it's a requirement to carry the name in Southern California, with the eldest, Bonnie, a freshman at Stanford, and the youngest, Katie Lou (who scored eight points), a budding freshman star with range and a quick trigger.
"Our kids just had a letdown," Holy Cross coach Eddie Simpson said after his team held on for a 54-46 win. "I told them in the locker room, 'Don't think for a minute this game is over. This team, I saw them, they keep fighting and they're going to be scrappy. You cannot let down. You saw the game before us [Brea Olinda over Villa Maria 74-49], the team was down and went on a 28-0 run to start the second half."
But the Tartans couldn't resist and fell into the complacency trap. The relaxed Holy Cross defense allowed Edison to bomb away from the outside, scratch and claw on the boards to get back in the game.
"I think the defensive effort, the rebounds, we just weren't containing rebounds," Simpson said. "We were starting to leave 44 (Karlie Samuelson) and 33 (Katie Lou Samuelson) wide open for the shots, and they're both excellent shooters and excellent players."
The hobbled Karlie Samuelson finished with a game-high 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers in the game, and fueling a 16-8 third-quarter run for the Chargers, closing the 14-point halftime deficit to just five entering the fourth quarter.
"I was just going to go for it and see how it went when I went in the game," Samuelson said. "[I] couldn't really move on defense, but I just tried to get down the floor and spot up."
Holy Cross isn't a good team to be lacking lateral quickness against on the defensive end. The Tartans have plenty of athletic weapons, both inside and out. The team was led by the 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half, of 6-foot-5 sophomore post Rhamat Alhassan. Senior guard Jazmine Missouri and junior Taylor McCarley both finished with 12 points in the win.
But Edison was not the only quarterfinalist in the Anderson Division playing short-handed. No. 48 Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.) took on No. 28 St. Joseph's Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) without star wing and Baylor signee Alexis Prince. Her absence was due to a two-game suspension she received after being ejected from a game before the team made the trip to the desert.
Edgewater didn't go quietly to the higher-ranked Angels, trailing by one point at the half. But senior Missouri signee Maddie Stock, who finished with 21 points, found her shooting rhythm in the fourth quarter and powered St. Joseph's to a 55-41 victory and a Wednesday afternoon matchup with Holy Cross. The winner will take on the winner of the battle of Southern California powers, Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.) or Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.), in Thursday's 3 p.m. championship game.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.