St. Monica and Cantwell-Sacred Heart battle for a rebound on Saturday. (Photo by Paul Alvarez Jr.)
St. Monica and Cantwell-Sacred Heart battle for a rebound on Saturday. (Photo by Paul Alvarez Jr.)

ST. MONICA — It was just another day at the office for Briana Harris.

With a line of 30 points, six rebounds and four steals, Harris led her team to a victory Saturday night against the Cantwell-Sacred Heart Cardinals, 52-43, in the second round of the CIF State Girls Basketball Championships.

The St. Monica Mariners put their defensive stamp on the game early, forcing turnovers and jumping out to a 14-2 lead. But the Cardinals got going offensively, bridging the first and second quarters with a 12-2 run. The game was tied at 27 at the half.

“[Harris] got a couple of fouls, we got a little off kilter, and they hit some good shots,” Mariners coach John Skinner said about his team’s second quarter. “They made a couple of adjustments to how we started the game.”

The Mariners made adjustments of their own after halftime, allowing Cantwell-Sacred Heart to score only seven points in the third quarter. Harris had nine of St. Monica’s 13 points in the frame, but a combined five missed free throws by her and center Melissa Maragnes prevented a potentially wider margin going into the fourth quarter.

Harris dealt with foul trouble all night, picking up her fourth with 6:20 left in the fourth quarter, sending her to the bench. When she returned, she scored six points, helping to put away the Cardinals.

Despite her struggles, Harris stayed confident.

“As a player, I have to come out here and play my game,” she said.

Maragnes had a difficult game offensively, scoring only five points, but was able to contribute 10 rebounds.

“She’s still gotta realize how strong she is and be more aggressive offensively, but I really liked that she [had] another great defensive effort,” Skinner said of Maragnes.

Cardinals coach Omar Villalta spoke of how difficult it is to stop St. Monica once they get going.

“Every time we play them, we spot them points and it’s hard for us to come back,” he said after the game. “[They] have two key players and it’s hard for you to defend it straight up unless we start double-teaming. Their supporting cast is good enough to get it done.”

Harris felt the key to the Mariners’ victory Saturday was all about energy.

“We matched their energy, but at the end, they couldn’t match ours,” Harris said.

With the win, St. Monica’s advanced to the CIF regional semifinals and will face the St. Bernard Vikings on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at St. Monica High School.

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