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Her senior season came to a crushing end during a non-league girls basketball heavyweight bout that was added on the Cabrillo schedule – a Dec. 8 contest against PAC 8 League power Righetti. The game came about due to area tournament cancellations from the Thomas fire.

Britney McCune left the CHS floor grimacing in pain from her knee, then got carried away from the gym with a red cast draped over her now torn ligament.

Just like that, McCune – the All-Area post presence for a Conquistadore team that often relied on her for points in the paint and grabbing rebounds – would experience the senior season she never thought she would have. 

“It was very surprising it happened – and very heartbreaking,” McCune said during practice on Wednesday. “I was really worried off the bat because I know I play a major role on my team and I didn’t want to see my team suffer…because I couldn’t do my part anymore.”

But as the senior post presence’s playing days concluded in that 43-35 victory over the Warriors, her teammates have made sure that they stretched out her senior season for her…and have gotten McCune to taste the CIF Southern Section title game with them.

McCune will be cheering and supporting her teammates from courtside as Cabrillo chases down the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA title against Downey Warren at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Both teams will converge inside the Colony High School gymnasium in Ontario.

McCune loves how her teammates have rallied around each other after that night the Conqs lost her post ability for good.

“They’ve really stepped up after that Righetti tournament,” McCune said, referring to the Dec. 27-29 RHS tournament that was added to the CHS schedule at the last minute, which was the Conqs’ first week without McCune. “We kept seeing our confidence grow, our post players got stronger and our team started working in unison. It’s been awesome.”

Valerie Monzon was one of the players who stepped in to provide an extra inside element in McCune’s absence. The forward has emerged as a rebounding and defensive machine – but Monzon says it is five players on the floor who make the Conqs go.

“A lot of girls have stepped up. If one player goes down, it’s five players who step up,” Monzon said.

Additionally, she’s provided the extra defensive presence with another key injury on the CHS roster in Kiki Dial – who was known for her play off the ball. Dial, like McCune, was lost for the year with a knee injury in January.

“They were two major players. But like I said, it was a huge team effort. We started to see that we could play as a team,” Monzon said.

The McCune injury was considered the biggest blow to the defending Los Padres League champions because she was often the second scoring option opposite her cousin Erin Jenkins. Jenkins is motivated by playing for McCune and Dial on Saturday.

“We definitely want to play for them. It’s really rough not having them with us,” Jenkins said. “If we had both of them in there, we would be a lot stronger with Britney handling the post and Kiki handling the ball. We’re going to go out and play for them.”  

Even though No. 11 won’t be out there to defend and score in the key against the Bears, McCune admits there will still be a sense of anxieties on her end once the ball is tipped.

“It’ll definitely be nerve-racking. I’m even more nervous because there’s a big post inside (on Warren). That’s my forte and I love to guard the post. So I wish I could get in there and help,” McCune said.

Yet, that’s not preventing McCune from feeling confident about her team’s chances.

“I know they can handle it and when the jump ball happens, they’ll be in it,” McCune said.

In the end – and despite not being able to finish out the year with her team – McCune has been over the moon with how this CHS girls basketball team have made history as the first in school history to advance to a CIF-SS title game.  

“I’m extremely proud,” McCune said. “There’s still a little sadness because there’s that ‘What if you were still in there’ feeling. But I’m extremely proud of all the work they’ve done. They deserve it.”

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Sports Reporter