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Ruiz’s miracle scores Cats a win

Junior sinks half-court shot at buzzer

Posted: February 20, 2009 1:26 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Touchdown.

That was the name of the play and the result which gave West Ranch girls basketball a surprise 52-49 victory over No. 10 seed Whittier in the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs on the road.

With seconds left, Wildcats guard Erin Ruiz inbounded the ball to a teammate, grabbed a handoff, then launched from midcourt.

The ball went through the net for the 3-pointer and victory as time expired.

“Parents were rushing out of the stands. Players were rolling around the floor, mostly around Erin,” said West Ranch head coach Randy Smith. “I don’t think she could breathe.”

Ruiz scored a game-high 23 points.

But Smith said he had doubt for a moment that the score would count.

Not because it was late, but because of the officiating in the game.

“The whole game we were just getting incredibly poor breaks on all the calls,” Smith said. “It was really frustrating — phantom calls left and right. ... What I was so impressed with is our girls kept fighting.”

West Ranch (14-12) fell behind 17-12 after a quarter, then kept chipping away.

The Cardinals’ lead was 28-27 at halftime, then the game stayed close all the way through.

Smith credited his defense with keeping the perimeter-shooting Cardinals at bay.

Whittier hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and two the rest of the game.

Loren Gurrola led the Cardinals (23-5) with 17 points.

Alex Ritz added 10 points for the Wildcats.

West Ranch will face the winner of No. 7 Mira Costa and Channel Islands on Saturday.

cosborne@the-signal.com


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