The Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam girls basketball final matchup is set.
Locked in a grind-it-out, low-scoring battle with Academy of Our Lady of Guam, Okkodo once again found a way to come out on top, edging the Cougars, 46-39, in overtime in their semifinal matchup at the University of Guam Calvo Field House on Wednesday.
Their opponent in the final will be two-time defending champion St. Paul Christian School, a 43-34 winner against St. John's School in the other semifinal.
The Bulldogs ultimately came out on top thanks to some clutch play from junior Vanezza Gustilo and senior Angeli Dacanay, who each scored a team-high 9 points to lead six players with at least 6 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
Gustilo scored 5 of her 9 points during overtime, going 5-of-6 from the free throw line in overtime. Dacanay had 2 points and pulled down four rebounds in overtime.
“It was all just a team effort, we wouldn’t have done it without each other,” Dacanay told The Guam Daily Post.
Oriana Sevilla had a game-high 15 points in the loss for Academy.
Okkodo closed out the second quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 24-22 lead into the halftime break. But Academy seized the momentum in the third quarter, outscoring Okkodo 10-3 behind the hot shooting of Sevilla. The Cougar guard banked in a 3-pointer to open the quarter and capped it off with another shot from behind the arc to give Academy a 30-27 advantage.
The Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure, resulting in 7 straight points to open the fourth quarter. Dacanay scored down low and Gustilo followed with a steal, leading to a fast-break bucket and the and-one by Amaiya Fontanella. Two free throws by Anjanette Ponce put Okkodo on top 34-30.
The teams traded the lead several times the final six minutes of regulation. A backdoor cut by Sevilla on a beautiful pass from Myka Terlaje put Academy back in front 36-35. A jumper by Gustilo gave the lead back to Okkodo before Sevilla answered with a dribble drive to the basket to give Academy a 37-36 edge with less than two minutes left in the fourth. Ponce hit one of two free throws to tie the contest and eventually force overtime as neither team could pull ahead down the stretch.
It was all Okkodo in the overtime, putting the game out of reach with a 7-0 run to start the extra frame. Dacanay opened with a tough basket in the paint and D’Shanae Cruz followed with a put-back bucket. Gustilo knocked down 5-of-6 free throws to secure the victory.
Academy finally got on the board with two free throws by Alexis Fejeran with 37.1 second remaining in the four-minute overtime period.
“Coach always motivates us to play harder, but we know that we have to turn it on at the end,” Dacanay said.
The Lady Bulldogs were the last team to hoist the championship trophy besides the Warriors, knocking off Southern High in the 2016 IIAAG girls basketball final. Since then it’s been all St. Paul, rolling to two straight titles, virtually untouched.
But this season has been more challenging, recognized St. Paul senior Monica Giger. “We lost a lot of starters this year … this year, it’s more like anyone’s game,” Giger said.
“We are younger and smaller this year … we have to communicate and play defense,” added senior Kirsten Silva, who had a game-high 13 points in the Warriors semifinal win.
The Bulldogs have been nipping at the Warriors heels all season, losing both the regular season matchups by just a combined 3 points, with 1-point loss at St. Paul and a 2-point loss on their home court on a buzzer beater by Giger in the regular season finale.
“We learned the little mistakes we need to work on,” Dacanay said.
“It will have to be a team effort,” acknowledged Gustilo.
Warriors stave off hot-shooting Knights
The St. Paul Warriors defeated the St. John’s Knights 43-34 behind the heads up play of Janilliese Quintanilla, who dropped 8 of her 12 points in the final stanza.
It was anything but smooth sailing for the undefeated Warriors with the Knights keeping close all second half. After trailing 23-10 at halftime, St. John’s closed the third on a 7-0 run to get within 33-30 to put some pressure on the two-time defending champs.
However, Quintanilla kicked it into high gear, scoring 4 straight points on layups off steals to keep her team ahead.
St. John’s went cold from the field in the fourth with their only field goal coming in the final minute off a putback from forward Kaia Malakooti.
St. Paul’s Kirsten Silva led all scorers with 13 points and Quintanilla added 12. St. John’s Palomares had a team-high 12 points and Malakooti added 11 in the loss.