CHINO HILLS – Like the Ayala High School girls basketball team Thursday night, the clock didn’t stop running. The Bulldogs’ 40-point lead didn’t result in a running-clock mercy rule until 2:28 remained in the game. Even so, Ayala ran in all 32 minutes of its 72-30 CIF Division II State playoff win against Sanger. Ayala will meet No. 3 seed Norco, a 52-43 winner over San Diego Mt. Carmel, on Saturday in the regional semifinals. “You never know what to expect in the state format,” said Ayala coach Mel Sims of the enrollment-based brackets, as opposed to the more complicated Southern Section grouping. “But we certainly didn’t expect to win by 42 points.” Senior forward Rebekah Gardner had 26 points, eight rebounds and four steals for No. 2 seed Ayala (29-3), and center Jasmine Holliday had 18 points, 12 boards, four steals and two blocked shots. The Bulldogs shot a pedestrian 46 percent from the field. In fact, seventh-seeded Sanger (25-8) shot 60percent opposite Ayala’s 38 percent in the first quarter. Trouble was, that left the Apaches trailing by seven. An incessant fastbreak fueled by repeated long passes over the top of Sanger defenders led to numerous Ayala layups. “They were running with us in the first quarter,” Gardner said. “I think we just tired them out.” After outscoring Sanger 31-6 over a 10:52 stretch from late in the first quarter to early in the third, the Bulldogs led, 44-18. Because of the fastbreaks and Ayala’s dominance on the offensive glass, the Bulldogs attempted 23 more field goals than Sanger. Fueling the fire, Sanger’s 19 turnovers doubled the Ayala total. “We knew we had our hands full,” Sanger coach Steve Case said. “The San Joaquin Valley is trying to catch up to what these teams are doing down here.” Nobody has caught Ayala in 20 games. The Bulldogs even won last Friday’s CIF-SS Division II-A championship game by 27 points. During their 20-game win streak, the lone game decided by less than 16 points was a two-point win over Perris in the CIF-SS semifinals. “We want to play closer games,” Gardner said, “at least for the fans. But I don’t think the rest of our games are going to be anything like this.” [email protected] (909) 386-3935 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!