By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Santa Rosa Junior College women scored the game’s final eight points Wednesday night, including a basket by Anandi Jimenez with five seconds remaining, to defeat visiting San Francisco, 57-55, and advance to the fourth round of the CCCAA State Tournament.
If the top-seeded Bear Cubs defeat No. 4 San Joaquin Delta at home on Saturday, they’ll be one of two teams representing Northern California in the championship finals, which begin March 15 in Sacramento.
The winning basket came on a beautifully executed play called Colt Head Tap.
It began with Stephanie Sack throwing the ball to center McKenzie Mangino playing the high post. On cue, forward Jimenez broke from the along the baseline toward the basket and got a step on her defender. She took the lob in stride and banked the ball into the basket.
Turns out Colt Head Tap was the third option coach Lacey Campbell had drawn up during the timeout she called with 30 seconds remaining.
It’s a good thing Santa Rosa was going to the basket alongside its bench. Otherwise, point guard Sack (Casa Grande) might not have heard Campbell change the play.
“The San Francisco defense was set up for the first two plays we talked about,” Campbell said. “I thought we could get Jimenez open going high-low and I yelled out the play to Steph. She signaled the play to her teammates.
“The girls executed it perfectly and deserve all the credit.”
The basket culminated a comeback that began with the Bear Cubs trailing 55-49 and 2:15 left on the clock.
Taylor Graham (Maria Carrillo) started the run by making two free throws. That was followed by a driving one-hander by Jimenez (Montgomery) and a right-handed reverse layup by Whitney Edens (Cloverdale).
On San Francisco’s next-to-last possession, Olivia Mayorga-Overtone missed a layup and Santa Rosa got the ball back with 30 seconds remaining.
The Rams led most of the game. At halftime, the visitors had a 27-23 edge.
In the final 16 minutes, each team enjoyed a six-point lead. Santa Rosa was on top 44-38 with eight minutes left while San Francisco had that 55-49 advantage in the final minutes.
Jimenez led the Bear Cubs in scoring with 11. She also had a team-high eight rebounds.
“I was pumped when I saw that we were going to run Colt Head Tap,” Jimenez said. “My adrenaline was going and I wanted the ball. I sealed my defender and got free. There was no way I was going to miss that shot.”
Mangino was also excited she was going to be an integral part of the final play.
“We were all so focused during the comeback,” she said. “On that last play, I got the ball and saw Anandi get free. It was a great way to win.”
Following the basket, San Francisco called timeout. However, the ensuing inbounds pass was deflected by Edens and caught by Sack.
Santa Rosa enjoyed a huge advantage from the free throw line. The Bear Cubs converted 18-of-23 for 78 percent while the Rams got to the line only seven times and made three.
San Francisco has made more 3-point goals than any team in the state and the Rams added eight to their total.
Overall, the visitors made 22 of 51 shots (43 percent) while Santa Rosa converted 18 of-55 for 33 percent.
The Bear Cubs improved to 26-6 while San Francisco ends its season with a 20-10 mark.