Desert Christian Academy loses to Capistrano Valley Christian, 70-24

Desert Christian Academy may have a CIF women’s basketball title in its future, but it wasn’t supposed to be Saturday night. The Conquerors encountered a juggernaut in the CIF-SS 5AA Championship game at Bermuda Dunes.

Desert Christian scored the first five points, but the rest of the game belonged to Capistrano Valley Christian, who ran away with the game ending in 7024.

“They were the best team,” Desert Christian head coach Chris Johnson said. “Sometimes it happens.”

The loss marked the end of an unlikely run for the Conquerors, who opened the divisional playoffs as the 11th seed and fought their way into the championship game with a trio of wins against the seventh seed. seed University Prep, second seed Milken Community and third seed Laguna Beach.

Each of those three games was close, and the Laguna Beach semi-final was won in overtime. The Conquerors scored four points in the final 12 seconds of the 53-50 win.

But Saturday was a different story. Once Capistrano Valley Christian got going, there was no turning back. The Eagles led 22-10 after the first quarter, 39-16 at halftime and outclassed DCA 31-8 in the second half.

“They are well trained, they have great players,” Johnson said. “They are the real deal.”

The Eagles played running backs Desert Christian (17-11) throughout the game, forcing them to back long passes that were often intercepted and led to quick break points. The Conquerors returned the ball 18 times.

Capistrano Valley Christian (17-6) isn’t very tall, so in a half-court offense they became a 3-point team and had nine shots from beyond the arc on Saturday. Five of them came in the third quarter, during a four-minute kill streak that saw the Eagles make seven of 10 shots and put the game away.

Still, Johnson’s daughter Melia, the team’s only senior, said the sting of the loss won’t diminish what the Conquerors have accomplished in the playoffs.

“When we played as a team,” Melia Johnson said, “it was really something special.”

Marin Olsen led Desert Christian with nine points and Natalie Duncan added eight, including a pair of 3-pointers. Hannah Shaver contributed four points, Johnson finished with two points and Maddie Reedman scored one.

Mariah Streeter and Hall Sii led the Eagles with 23 points apiece.

Although Melia is the coach’s youngest daughter, her father said the plan is to resume coaching Desert Christian next year. His daughter is the only player not expected to return.

That means the Conquerors could be pretty good. Among the returning players will be Shaver, a freshman center who scored 27 points in the quarterfinals.

She is expected to lead a group of players who now know what it takes to get to the championship game. This could mean that next year’s squad could take the season one step further.

At least one person thinks it could very well happen.

“Tons of potential,” said Melia Johnson. “Extremely hardworking group, and I’m so excited to see what they can do.”

Andrew John covers sports for The Desert Sun and USA Today Network. Email him at [email protected] and find him on Twitter at @Andrew_L_John.

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