And so, when her sixth-seeded Pointers entered the fourth quarter of their title match down 24-22 against fifth-seed Hoover at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the USD campus, the 6’ 0” junior took charge.
Over the final eight minutes, Maclean scored 15 of her game-high 22 points, including a stunning 8 of 8 from the free throw line, part of a 15-4 Pointer scoring run that propelled them to a 43-36 come-from-behind win over a tough Cardinal squad for the Div. IV title.
“We want to stifle a team offensively by the end of a game,” said Pointers head coach Dave Aros. “Today, these girls believed that if they were within a couple points, they would make the defensive stops and make their free throws.”
“We’re a family,” Maclean said as the celebration continued in the arena foyer. “We know there are going to be downs in any sport, but we’re a great team and can get through anything.”
Maclean praised Aros, who was an assistant to legendary Lee Trepanier, the last coach to hang a CIF title banner in the Pointer gym that now bears his name.
“Coach Aros is marvelous,” Maclean said. “During timeouts, it’s all about defense. We hang our hats on our defense.”
“At this point of the season, our girls are comfortable with what we do,” Aros said, smiling as he watched his players buying souvenir T-shirts after the game.
The game was, by no means, an easy one for the Pointers, who were down
10-4 after the first quarter. The Cardinal’s half-court press rattled them and led to early steals and turnovers.
By halftime, the Pointers had cut the lead to 17-14, with a nice three-point play by versatile senior Makenna Sanders helping the surge.
Aros stressed defensive pressure during intermission, and his girls, who began dominating rebounds under the Cardinal basket, actually took a brief lead before Hoover went back on top.
During their big final quarter, the Pointers forced six Cardinal turnovers, converting many of these into points, and when Maclean launched an early bomb from three-point range, the Pointers took a 25-24 lead they never relinquished.
As the final seconds ticked off the arena scoreboard, the legion of Pointer parents and students erupted in a raucous celebration signaling the end of a 23-year wait.
Game scoring included seniors Ilish Gedestad (3 points), Sanders (7) and Angelica Perez (4) along with sophomore Hiwalani Sierra (7). Gedestad led all players with nine rebounds.
“The students (known as the ‘Dog Pound’) were crazy! I’m so happy they came out,” Maclean said.
To reach the finals, the Lady Pointers defeated San Ysidro 48-28 at home, Vincent Memorial 48-41 in Calexico and Ocean View Christian 33-28 in South San Diego.
“They just believed,” Aros repeated, nodding his head.
Yes they did.
• Maclean attributed her team’s slow start to “the big gym, the publicity, knowing you are on television.”
• Under CIF scheduling, the game was played at 11 a.m. on a Friday. Pointer students who brought parental permission slips were allowed to leave campus to support their team.
• The Pointers lost to the same Hoover team 47-28 Dec. 28 in the Crawford Holiday Tournament.
• For the year, the Pointers finished with an 18-8 overall record and an 11-2 mark for second place behind Kearny in the Central League.
With this year’s record, the Lady Pointers may jump to Div. III next season in the new CIF playoff system determined by a school’s record over the last five years instead of student enrollment.