Editor's note: The Times is going through its archives to look back at some of the most pivotal games area teams have played over the last two decades. Today, we feature VCA's girls basketball team winning a CIF title in 2005.
It really was all about the finish for veteran Valley Christian Academy coach Stan Bickley's girls basketball team when they played for the CIF Southern Section Division 5A girls basketball title on March 5, 2005 at Azusa Pacific University.
The top-seeded Lions trailed No. 2 Huntington Beach Liberty Christian 27-17 at halftime. VCA sisters Cynthia (senior) and Christine Regalado (sophomore) exchanged looks as they left the floor and headed for the VCA locker room.
Those looks said, "We were challenging each other," Cynthia Regalado said after she and her teammates had risen to the challenge, overwhelming the Minutemen in the second half for a 59-44 win and the school's first divisional girls championship.
Editor's note: The Times is going through its archives to look back at some of the most pivotal games area teams have played over the years. T…
VCA's starting five did all the scoring in that one. Lara Hertzog finished with a game-high 24 points, Whitney Mugg scored 23, Christine Regalado finished with 10 points, Cynthia Regalado scored nine and Brittani Datu finished with five, all on free throws.
The Lions had not done much of anything on offense in the first half. They frequently turned the ball over against the Minutemen's press and, when they did get a shot off, they were often off the mark.
In the second half, VCA's 3-point shooters started to hit. Cynthia Regalado nailed a 3 on the Lions' first shot after intermission, and Mugg sank another 3 shortly thereafter.
"Making that first 3 (after intermission) was really big," Bickley said afterward.
The Lions changed their offense in the second half, with the guards passing the ball to Datu as a press break, and the move paid off.
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Both averaged around 14 points a game and led their teams in scoring as they led their squads to league titles.
Instead of dribbling into the Minutemen's pressure, VCA's guards got the ball to Datu ahead of the pressure. Then Datu had the option of getting the ball to one of her breaking teammates, either to her right or to her left.
Once the Lions got the ball past midcourt, Datu set up in the high post, and this was effective as well. She could dish the ball to her outside shooters, or to the 5-foot-10 Hertzog, who was setting up shop in the low post.
Mugg, who finished three-for-seven on 3's, nailed some key treys and Hertzog devastated the Minutemen inside. She put up 16 shots in the game and made 12.
Like so many young athletes, the 2016 Lompoc High graduate had her senior season of college athletics cut short by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Lions passed the Minutemen late in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth.
As their lead widened the Lions sealed off the lane, forcing the Minutemen to cast off on 3-point tries. Many didn't come close. Liberty Christian wound up 4-for-19 on 3's and once the Lions forced the Minutemen to shoot mostly from behind the arc, Liberty Christian was effectively out of contention.
"We just made sure we were really guarding the inside," Datu said afterward.
Bickley said afterward that his team's modus operandi change after halftime had helped. "This was a complete team win," he added.
Visalia Central Valley Christian defeated VCA 62-50 in the first round of the state tournament the following Tuesday. Cynthia Regalado was the Lee Central Coast Newspapers All-Area MVP.
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