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Girls' basketball: Mesa Grande Academy wins 5A title

February 27, 2013 |  4:51 pm

6a00d8341c630a53ef017c3724ba2e970b-piMesa Grande Academy got all it could handle from an AGBU squad that refused to give in, but the Cardinals scored the final two baskets to pull out a 36-34 victory in today's Southern Section Division 5A championship game at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Sophomore forward Madison Price had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the top-seeded Cardinals (27-3), who held AGBU scoreless in the final two minutes to win their 20th straight game. Senior point guard Michaela Garcia added eight points and eight assists, but she admitted afterwards that the win was nothing like the Cardinals' previous three blowouts.

"They kept coming back at us, but we made the plays in the end," Garcia said. "We couldn't seem to put them away. This was definitely our toughest game of the playoffs." 

Price made a running bank shot to give the Cardinals a 31-25 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but AGBU battled back and took a 34-32 lead on Alin Zarifian's three-pointer with 2:05 left. It took about 10 seconds for Mesa Grande Academy to regain the lead on a three-point basket by Charity Underwood and Price added a free throw with 28.7 seconds remaining.

Zarifian missed a three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left and Mesa Grande Academy got the rebound. On the inbounds play the Cardinals got the ball to Price across halfcourt and she dribbled out the clock.

AGBU trailed 19-14 at halftime, but a free throw by Natel Costanian capped a 7-0 run that gave the second-seeded Titans (15-7) a 25-24 lead with 2:43 left in the third quarter. Zarifian scored 13 points with five assists and Costanian added five points and 11 rebounds.

-- Steve Galluzzo

Photo: Mesa Grande Academy players hold up their CIF patches and championship plaque proudly after winning the Southern Section 5A Division title. Credit: Steve Galluzzo / For The Times