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Lady Bears claw to home tourney crown
Playing in the championship game of their own tournament, the Pierce High girls basketball team routed short-handed Maxwell 45-15 on Friday in Arbuckle.
Jackie Corona scored 11 points and Cami Dorantes added 10 of her own to lead the Bears (5-1) past the Panthers in the championship game of the Pierce Girls Basketball Tournament.
Carissa Cabral scored nine points and was selected to the all-tournament team, along with teammate Mariah Diaz for Pierce, which improved to 5-1 with the victory. Natalie Corona was named the tournament MVP.
Maxwell played without its two starting post players, Kaily McKinley and Jenna Powell. McKinley missed the entire tournament due to another commitment and Powell injured her ankle earlier in the tournament, and their absence hurt the Panthers (4-2).
Jessie Otterson and Shelen Boyes were named all-tournament for Maxwell.
Los Molinos 55, Williams 51
Los Molinos (2-2) rallied from behind in the fourth quarter of the consolation championship to beat Williams (2-4) as Clarivel Castillo and Katie Morgan paced the Bulldogs with 18 points each.
The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle as Castillo grabbed 11 rebounds and Morgan hauled down nine. Crystal Sanchez led the team with 12 rebounds to go with nine points, and Kaitlyn Seaman posted eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Emilee Cranford paced the Yellowjackets with 18 points and six rebounds, and Liz Rivera netted 13 points. Carolina Mendiola contributed four points and eight rebounds.
Struggles from the free throw line hurt the Yellowjackets, coach Gary Cranford said. The team converted on just 11 of 31 foul shots.
The Bears opened the tournament with a 48-35 win against their Colusa County rival Williams.
Pierce outscored Williams 13-5 in the third quarter to break open a close game in the first round of the four-team varsity tournament.
Sporting a new look with just one player returning from last year's guard heavy team, the Bears controlled the game in the half-court with the strong interior play by center Mariah Diaz and a trio of forwards.
"We're trying to teach them how to play disciplined basketball and we're trying to put in an offense that will match our skill set," first-year coach Cecil Felkins said.
Last year the team lived and died by its play in transition but Felkins slowed the game down to take advantage of the team's height advantage.
"The big thing is we're trying to get them to play under control, which I think they're doing a good job."
The team's only returning starter is 6-foot senior Natalie Corona, who was the tallest player on the team last year but was able to move to the wing with the addition of Diaz, a 6-2 center, and 5-11 forwards Cami Dorantes and Riley Voorhees.
Corona scored seven points and swiped seven steals while Diaz scored 11 points and was a dominant force on the offensive boards, Dorantes scored nine points and Voorhees played solid defense.
Two sophomore guards kept Williams from collapsing in on the post players. Starting point guard Carissa Cabral slashed her way to 11 points and snagged four steals, while Corona's younger sister, Jackie Corona, came off the bench to score six points.
The Yellowjackets relied heavily on senior forward Emilee Cranford who scored a game-high 17 points while grabbing 10 rebounds, making four steals and dishing out three assists.
Cranford and center Caroline Mendiola struggled through injuries in the second half as Pierce added to the 25-22 lead it took into halftime. Mendiola finished with four points and eight rebounds despite missing most of the second half.
Williams (2-3) is a more well-rounded team this year, coach Gary Cranford said.
Junior point guard Claudia Villanueva provides aggressive defense on the perimeter and a consistent ball-handler, and senior guard Liz Rivera presents a dangerous outside shooter as well as the ability to slash to the hoop. Villanueva finished with five points and Rivera scored nine points.
"We've shown big improvement, it's just fundamentals still; blocking out, following the shot and free throws," Cranford said. Williams shot just 7 for 18 from the free throw line.
Maxwell 33, Los Molinos 29
A lack of practice time by both teams led to a sloppy game between the Panthers and Los Molinos in the tournament opener.
Both schools won volleyball section championships which pushed back the start of practice for a significant number of players, including key starters.
"The biggest thing is that lack of practice. There are definitely some athletes on this team and I think once we get it all together and everyone knows where they're going we're going to see a big turnaround," Los Molinos coach Val White said.
Otterson scored 16 points to lead the Panthers offense, which was without its center, McKinley, and lost Powell to an ankle injury at the start of the second quarter. Otterson finished with five steals and three blocks.
"It was kind of a grind-out game tonight, not one of those ones you want to do every night. The refs let them play and so it was very physical," Leo LaGrande said. "Jessie stepped up and carried the team so that was awesome for us."
Castillo paced the Bulldogs with a triple double, accumulating 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals.
Boyes accounted for six points, six rebounds and six steals, and Brittney Haywood posted six points and five boards.
Morgan provided a spark on defense for Los Molinos, snagging six steals and scoring six points, and Seaman added five points, three rebounds and three assists.