FONTANA — The Righetti Warriors caught fire Wednesday night in Fontana and rode a blazing fourth quarter into the CIF Southern Section Division 2A girls basketball semifinals.
The Warriors closed the game against the Summit High SkyHawks on an 18-3 run, breaking open a tight game for a closer-than-it-sounds 60-48 victory.
The SkyHawks (22-7) came in with a championship pedigree, having won five straight and 10 of the last 11 Sunkist League titles.
And the SkyHawks played like champions, giving the Warriors all they could handle.
But Righetti is also a veteran playoff team.
The Warriors (26-1), the PAC 8 League champions and overall No. 2 seed in Division 2A, dug deep, changed their game plan late and turned a tense battle into a blowout.
“We weren’t hitting any shots,” said Righetti coach Desiree Hitch. “The girls really pulled together when we needed it the most. I’m really proud of them. It’s a great moment for the girls.”
Zane Sheckherd led the Warriors with 22 points, Mercedes Arredondo added 18 and Alijah Paquet had nine – including a key 3-pointer early in Righetti’s closing run.
Summit favored the fast break with Laila Walker driving her way to 19 points and Alondra Duncan powering inside for 13.
But it was a change in Righetti’s offense that keyed the late surge.
Righetti’s had been trying to hit from the outside with 3’s from Sheckherd, Arredondo and Paquet.
The Warriors also worked the ball inside to Kendall Bagby, Ashley Reynoso and Malia Cabigon.
But SkyHawks center DeAdra Ross was a formidable foe in the middle, blocking several Righetti shots while the Warriors’ 3s weren’t falling and Summit kept a slim lead through most of the game.
In the fourth quarter, Hitch changed things up.
“We moved Zane in a bit, put her at the high post and had her shoot jumpers from around the free throw line,” said Hitch. “They’d been running a really good matchup zone but bringing Zane in really helped us out.”
Righetti trailed 43-37 with 6:42 left in the game when Arredondo drove the lane and was fouled.
She made her first foul shot, missed the second and the teams tied each other up on the rebound, forcing a jump ball with the possession arrow going to the Warriors.
Sheckherd then hit three straight jumpers from the foul line.
After two Duncan free throws, Sheckherd drove to the basket, scored and was fouled.
Her free throw gave Righetti a 46-45 lead with 4:05 left in the game.
And that opened things up for Sheckherd’s teammates.
Bagby drove the lane for a basket, Paquet hit her big three, Arredondo scored on a driving layup, was fouled and made that shot, too and suddenly, like the roof fell in on the SkyHawks, Righetti was up 54-46 with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Duncan scored again after a Summit time out with 2:27 left in the game.
Righetti was leading 54-48 when Sheckherd fouled out with 2:06 left but that also turned out to help the Warriors.
“After Zane fouled out, they didn’t know who to guard and we capitalized on it,” said Hitch.
The Warriors went on a 6-0 to finish the game and the SkyHawks’ season.
“We had to hang tough. There were plenty of opportunities for the girls to hang their heads but they didn’t. They pulled together as a team. It was a great team win and that’s what we need in every single game of the playoffs. Summit is a good team — they knocked off a good Dana Hills team to get into this game. We knew they were going to be a big challenge tonight and both teams did a good job. We went to war together and tonight we won the war.”
Righetti returns home to face Downey in Saturday’s semifinals.