Doug Michelson did not underestimate Cuesta, the opponent for his Valley College women's basketball team in the first-round of the Southern California regional playoffs Tuesday night at Valley.
"They didn't come here for a field trip," the first-year Valley coach said.
But the Monarchs certainly made it look that way, overcoming a slow start to rout Cuesta, 82-46.
Valley (26-3), the No. 2-seeded team in the regional tournament, will play host Friday to the winner of tonight's first-round game between Cerritos and Orange Coast.
The Monarchs struggled at the outset but took the lead for good with 14:08 remaining in the first half.
Cuesta (16-10) succumbed to Valley's full-court pressure, committing 15 turnovers in the first half to fuel the Monarch's fast break.
Said Cuesta Coach Ed Musolff: "We're not a walk-it-down team but we're not a race-it-down team, either."
Point guard Bernadette Tillis scored half of her game-high 22 points on fast-break baskets. Tillis scored 14 points in the first half on 5-of-11 shooting, including a three-point basket. She also had a game-high 11 assists, penetrating the Cougar defense at will.
"I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was," Tillis said. "We started to penetrate at the end of the first half and in the second, it all fell into place."
Said Musolff of Tillis: "She's so quick. We did the best we could against her but you can't match up against someone like that."
Tillis was not Cuesta's sole concern. Valley's Dametra Johnson had the hot hand in the first half, scoring 12 of her 18 points in an 18-2 spurt that turned a 10-9 Monarch lead into a 28-11 advantage. But Johnson sat out the end of the first half with foul trouble and missed her first three attempts after intermission.
"Sitting out the latter half of the first quarter, I kind of lost my rhythm," Johnson said.
Johnson had plenty of support. Shogarro Lattin scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and Traci Atkins added 12 points.
"For us to have made it a down-to-the-wire game, we would have had to play our best ever," Musolff said. "And we went cold in the first half."
Moorpark women lose to Cypress. See story, Page 17.