SRJC women earn state final berth

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Santa Rosa JC women’s basketball team took the lead for good with 2:51 remaining on a 3-point goal by Ashley Morgan and upset Mt. San Antonio, 56-55, Saturday night in the CCCAA state basketball semifinals at Ventura College.

Ashley Morgan, a 5-foot-10 freshman out of Maria Carrillo, pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and scored nine points in SRJC's state semifinal win Saturday over Mt. San Antonio. Press Democrat file photo by Crista Jeremiason

The victory puts the Bear Cubs in the championship game today at 3:30 p.m. against City College of San Francisco. CCSF, the top seed from the North, defeated Cypress, 50-42, in the first semifinal.

The teams split in the regular season with SF winning, 71-58, at Haehl Pavilion on Dec. 10, and Santa Rosa gaining revenge, 68-63, in the Golden Gate Classic eight days later.

Morgan’s 3-pointer, with Jen Tsurumoto getting the assist, put Santa Rosa ahead, 45-42.
The Bear Cubs led 56-52 when Kaiameka Brown’s trey at the buzzer made it a one-point final.
As has been the case throughout the playoffs, Santa Rosa’s defense was stifling. The Mounties, Southern California’s top seed, came in averaging 75 points per game.

Tsurumoto, last year’s All-Empire Player of the Year while leading Analy to the Sonoma County League title, led all scorers with 20 points. Playing all but two minutes, the 5-foot-6 guard made 9-of-14 from the field. She also had five assists.

The game featured 10 lead changes and was tied 11 times.
Morgan, a 5-foot-10 freshman out of Maria Carrillo, pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and finished with nine points.
The key trey came from the wing.

“I was afraid it was going to be short when I let it go,” Morgan said. “Then I could tell it was going in. What a great feeling.”

Coach Lacey Campbell said that in addition to making the key 3-pointer and having a big night on the boards, Morgan anchored the defense.

“She seemed to be everywhere,” Campbell said. “She’d come out and defend and then would hustle back inside to double team when Mt. San Antonio took the ball inside.
“I think what it came down to was that we were mentally tougher and able to grind it out in the second half.”

Both teams came out jittery. The score was 17-17 at halftime.
The lead see-sawed in the second half with Mt. San Antonio taking its last lead, 40-39, with 5:23 remaining.

After Morgan’s key 3-pointer, the Bear Cubs held on to the lead by getting two buckets from Krysten Copeland, one from Tsurumoto and two free throws from Mia Greco and one each from Jenna Reed, Marie Sweet and Tsurumuto.

Sweet’s free throw with five seconds left gave Santa Rosa a 56-52 advantage.

This will be the first all NorCal final since 1992 when Lassen defeated Sequoias. Northern California is also assured of its first state championship since 1999.

“We’re two different style teams,” Campbell said. “San Francisco wants an up-tempo game and we are more defensive-minded. It’s a good match-up for us.”