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IRVINE — Pacifica Christian’s girls basketball team has talent, including arguably the best freshman in Orange County.

The Tritons showed Wednesday they also have grit.

Pacifica Christian, ranked 10th in Orange County, built a 20-point lead at No. 8 Crean Lutheran before overcoming a second-half surge by the Saints and foul trouble to collect a 67-56 victory to improve to 3-0.

Freshman point guard Addison Deal continued the strong start to her high school career by scoring 27 points and adding 11 rebounds and four steals to lead Pacifica Christian, which led by 20 points early in the third quarter.

But Deal spent most of the third and the first part of the fourth quarter on the bench with four fouls. She watched as the hot-shooting Saints (3-2) trimmed the lead to 52-50 on a driving layup by point guard Taylor Feldman with 6:57 left in regulation.

Pacifica Christian coach James Parker substituted Deal back into the game after Feldman’s basket and the Tritons responded with a 5-0 run to steady itself and eventually build momentum for the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 tournament later this week.

Deal sparked the 5-0 with a cutting layup on a pass from sophomore Annika Jiwani.

Jiwani and Jamie Mackay scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, to help pace the Tritons.

“It showed that we can face adversity and we can get through it,” Parker said of the victory. “The wheels started falling off a little bit but we stayed in it. My senior, Jamie Mackay, she really got on the girls about keeping their composure and not looking for their own shot and their own offense but trying to play to win.”

Deal scored nine points in the final seven minutes, answering the chants of “Over-rated!” by the Crean Lutheran student section with her clutch play.

Rated the top freshman in the state by Prep Girls Hoops California, Deal had 18 points when she picked up her fourth foul with just over seven minutes left in the third.

Deal punctuated her fourth quarter flurry by making a late steal at midcourt and racing for a breakaway layup.

Mackay, the one-time Mater Dei and JSerra player, tallied nine rebounds and added two blocks. Jiwani, a product of Kobe Bryant’s Mambas travel team, scored 11 points in the second quarter, including one of her three 3-pointers.

“I’m proud of the team for picking it up and staying strong,” Deal said. “I wasn’t as aware of my fouls like I should have been.”

“It’s definitely harder for us to run plays and get in spots well (without Deal),” Jiwani said. “We tried our hardest.”

Crean Lutheran forced seven turnovers in the third period and received a combined 18 points from its guard duo of Feldman and Emily Reed in the frame to make Pacifica Christian sweat. The seniors each sank two 3-pointers in the third.

“It definitely shows the character of the our team and we’re not going to give up,” Feldman said of the comeback. “The problem is we need to start out faster.”

Feldman finished with 25 points and five assists while Reed added 21 points, including six 3-pointers.

Crean Lutheran made nine 3-pointers overall — three more than Pacifica Christian — but made 7 of 16 foul shots (44 percent).

Pacifica Christian opens the La Jolla Country Day tournament Thursday against Dobson of Arizona (6-2).

More coverage to come

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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