In their first CIF semi-finals, Firehawk girls fall to top-seeded Pacifica Christian

82-24 loss is the most points Tritons had allowed in last three games


Photo by Tushar Dwivedi

DISTANT: It took their bus three hours in traffic for the girls basketball team and Head Coach Ryan Coleman to get to last Wednesday’s game in Pomona, but they were still happy to be further into the CIF playoffs than they ever had before.

By Zane Mendelson, Staff Writer

The atmosphere was riveting.

On one side of the gym you had the Triton fans who, no matter what, would not stop cheering –  even when they were up by as many as 50 points, they were constant with their screams of joy. 

On the other side were the Firehawk fans. At the beginning of the game there was not much to cheer for, so they were pretty quiet.  The Pacifica Christian Tritons were unstoppable, making shot after shot.

At the start of the second half, the Firehawk fans had a sudden burst of enthusiasm. They started to match the energy of the Triton fans, and before you knew it the entire gym was screaming, chanting, and clapping for their team, regardless of the score. 

When it was over, although Shalhevet’s girls team had gone farther this season than any Firehawk girls team had ever progressed in California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) play, they were defeated – possibly by the team’s largest-ever margin, and certainly, according to Shalhevet Athletic Director Jeff Remer, the largest in recent memory: 82-24.

They weren’t entirely surprised. In this semifinals match of the CIF Southern Section playoffs, the Firehawks were seeded fifth. They played the team that was seeded first, the Tritons of Pacifica Christian. The game was played on the Tritons’ home court in Newport Beach.

The Tritons were led by freshman Addison Deal, who scored 29 points, along with eight assists, seven rebounds and seven steals. Addison is currently ranked as California’s number one player in the class of 2025, according to Prep Girls Hoops. She has already received offers from various Div. 1 colleges, including Louisiana State University (LSU), one of the top women’s basketball programs in the country.

“Everything is here. We are as healthy as we have been all year, and really feel like if we push ourselves hard enough, we can do really well.”

— Arielle Grossman, 10th grade

This season the Tritons have 24 wins and just four losses. They beat the Ramona Rams 74-13 in the second round of the playoffs. Then they beat the Sacred Heart of Jesus Comets 65-14 in  the quarter-finals. 

That means the Firehawks scored more points than the Tritons have allowed in their previous two games.

Star junior Talia Tibi said the Firehawks knew what they were going up against coming into the game.

“We just wanted to go out there and have a good time,” Tibi said. “We put up the best fight we could, and we were there to get better, even if we had a small chance at winning.”

The Tritons finished the first quarter with a commanding 27-0 lead, and nothing really changed from there. The game was very one-sided, and it looked like the Firehawks never really found a rhythm. They scored their first point a minute and a half into the second quarter, on a free throw by Tibi.

High scorer for the Firehawks was sophomore Arielle Grossman, with 10 points.

With their win last Saturday night Feb. 19 against the San Jacinto Wolves, the Firehawks clinched a spot in the CIF state tournament, which will open on March 1. The tournament consists of eight teams from throughout central and southern California, competing in a one-game elimination bracket. The Northern part of California has a separate bracket with the same format, the winner of each bracket will face each other to decide the true State Champion. Seeding for the tournament comes out this Sunday evening, Feb. 27. 

So in spite of the loss, the Firehawk girls can look ahead towards the state playoffs, where they will make their first appearance in Shalhevet girls basketball history. The varsity boys basketball team made state for the first time last year, and now the girls team is going this year. 

Meanwhile, for the first time since injuring her ankle on Jan 9, sophomore Yalee Shwartz finally returned to the court. The Firehawks are nearly 100% healthy, now only without senior Jessica Melamed, who will miss the remainder of the season after tearing her ACL in the semifinals of the Glouberman tournament. 

Arielle Grossman said the players believe they have the pieces to make a run. 

“Everything is here,” said Arielle. “We are as healthy as we have been all year, and really feel like if we push ourselves hard enough, we can do really well.” 

It’s worth noting that what Shalhevet’s two teams have in common are their coaches, Head Coach Ryan Coleman and Assistant Coach Andrew Shultz. Since coming into the program in 2014, Coach Ryan Coleman has enjoyed numerous accomplishments, including bringing seven straight Mulholland league titles to the school, back-to-back Sarachek championships, two Glouberman championships, a boys state finals appearance, and now a girls state playoffs arrival. 

Time and place of the state championship tournament will be announced this Sunday.