Firehawks lose to Buena Park in CIF Southern Section semifinal, but continue in state championship contest


BP Photo by Evan Beller

TOP: Junior Yalee Schwartz was the lead scorer against Buena Park with 27 points. Above she shot a layup in the second half.

By Benjamin Gamson, Co-Editor-in-Chief

In a comeback victory before a hyped-up crowd in the Shalhevet gym, the Buena Park Coyotes defeated the Shalhevet Firehawks girls basketball team 59-55 Feb. 15 in the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA Semi-Final game – ending the team’s league season but setting them up for a run toward the state championship. 

The game was close throughout, but the Coyotes pulled ahead in the fourth quarter by scoring 25 points to win the game.  

Junior starter Arielle Grossman said that Buena Park changed the way they were shooting in the fourth and the Firehawks did not expect it. 

“The way they were scoring in the fourth quarter was all off of three-pointers, and up until the fourth quarter it wasn’t like that,” said Arielle. “So I think we knew that they were capable of shooting, but I don’t think we comprehended the instructions that our coaches were telling us about the shooters until it was too late.”

She said that just because they started off playing well didn’t mean it would translate for the entire game.

The way they were scoring in the fourth quarter was all off of three-pointers, and up until the fourth quarter it wasn’t like that.

— Arielle Grossman, Firehawk starter

“I would say for the most part we followed through on our game plan really well,” Arielle said. “But starting off strong doesn’t mean it’s automatic that we’re gonna end off strong. So we started off really strong, but we just didn’t close out, and I also think that we need to work on free-throw shooting.” 

Although Shalhevet lost, by advancing to the semi-final game, the Firehawks had already qualified for the CIF State Basketball Championship, which is an additional five round tournament. 

The Firehawks will play in Division 4, where they are now the number one seed in the Southern California Division Four and received a “bye” in Round One, which means they advance to Round Two automatically.  Buena Park will compete in Division 3, one level higher.

The next game for the Firehawks is set for Saturday night, again in the Shalhevet gym, against either Los Angeles CES or Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary. All games up until the State Championship will be played at Shalhevet because of the Firehawks’ number one seed. 

The final championship game will be played at the Golden One Center in Sacramento – as it was last year, when the girls team lost in the Division Five Championship game against San Domenico High School. 


Against Buena Park, Shalhevet started the first quarter down 8-0. Junior Yalee Schwartz opened the scoring for the Firehawks scoring a layup with 1:20 seconds left of the first. The score now was 8-2. The Firehawks began to climb back with senior Talia Tibi scoring a layup and then a buzzer-beater half-court three-pointer. At the end of the first quarter, the Coyotes led 8-7. 

In the second quarter the Firehawks picked up steam, scoring 12 points while Buena Park scored 7. At halftime Shalhevet led 19-15. 

Shalhevet continued to rally in the third quarter, scoring an additional 22 points, making it their best quarter of the game. Buena Park held them close, scoring an additional 19 points. At the end of the third quarter Shalhevet led 41-34. 

The fourth quarter saw Buena Park rally, scoring five three-pointers among their 25 points and sealing their win. 

The team ended its playoff run after going 20-1 in the regular season and coming in first place in the Mulholland League with a league record of 4-0. They received a ‘bye’ in Round 1, advancing to Round 2 automatically, where they defeated Flintridge Sacred Heart. In the quarter-final game the Firehawks defeated Jordan High School of Long Beach.

Buena Park lost 46-44 in the Division 4AA Championship game against the Rialto Knights on Feb. 25.