By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Playing its best defensive game of the season, the Santa Rosa JC women defeated visiting San Joaquin Delta, 48-38, Saturday night to advance to the CCCAA State Tournament finals.
Santa Rosa will battle Mt. San Jacinto on Friday at Cosumnes River in Sacramento. A victory in that game sends them to the state title game on Sunday.
If the Bear Cubs continue to play defense like they did against Delta, they have an excellent chance of winning their second CCCAA championship in three years.
The Mustangs could make only a dozen field goals and shot a paltry 23 percent from the field. This is the same team that scored 89 and 73 in the early rounds of the Northern California Regional.
“No question this was our best defensive game,” coach Lacey Campbell said. “Everyone knew their role, it didn’t matter what five players were on the court for us.
“We consistently got back in transition and didn’t give up any easy baskets. We made them work hard for everything.”
The Bear Cubs struggled at times on offense, but scored enough to secure the victory.
Anandi Jimenez (Montgomery) led the way with 10. Madison Sowards (Maria Carrillo) came off the bench to tally eight, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Santa Rosa had plenty of motivation Saturday. Besides a trip to the Final Four on the line, they wanted revenge. Delta came to Haehl Pavilion on Feb. 19 and won 62-49. A victory and Santa Rosa would’ve won the Big Eight outright. Instead, the Bear Cubs had to share the title with Sierra.
This time around, Santa Rosa took control at the start and never trailed. At halftime, it was 21-15.
The closest the Mustangs would get after intermission was 36-30 with eight minutes remaining.
Even the Delta coach was impressed with SRJC’s defensive effort.
“They played really good defense,” Gina Johnson said. “We didn’t get any easy baskets and missed some shots we would ordinarily make.
“We played pretty good defense, holding Santa Rosa in the 40s but we couldn’t score.”
Briana Vaden was the game’s high scorer with 14 and point guard Lisa Valentine had 10.
Valentine hit three of her team’s four 3-pointers. In the third round against Siskiyous, the Mustangs drained 11 from beyond the arc.
Arianna Hanson (Rincon Valley Christian) had an outstanding game for Santa Rosa. She blocked six shots and had four steals to go along with seven points.
“She does so much for us every game,” Campbell said. “She definitely means more to this team than what the stats show.”
Hanson was voted to the Big Eight first team and was selected to the All-State second team.
Whitney Edens (Cloverdale), also a first team Big Eight selection, scored five.
“Every day, (coach) has pounded defense in our heads,” she said. “We’ve learned to take pride in that part of the game.”
Saturday night it paid off in a trip to the CCCAA Final Four.
See more photos of this game at pressdemocrat.com.