Valley Beats Bakersfield to Reach Title Game : College basketball: Monarchs to face Golden West after rallying for 89-80 win.
Up until Friday night, Bakersfield College had been the surprise team of the women’s state junior college basketball tournament.
Bakersfield entered the Southern California regional seeded sixth in the South but knocked off Santa Rosa, seeded No. 1 in the North, on the way to a semifinal matchup with Valley.
There was no surprising Valley, though. It was the fourth meeting of the season between the Western State Conference Southern Division rivals, and Valley earned its third victory in the series, beating Bakersfield, 89-80, at Valley to advance to tonight’s 7 p.m. state championship game against Golden West.
Denied in the state semifinals in a double-overtime loss to Sequoias last season, Valley used two scoring runs to advance to the state final for the second time in three seasons.
Valley, however, has never prevailed in a state championship game.
Valley’s Tisa Rush sat out the last half of the first half with three fouls, but despite her absence Valley (32-4) broke a 30-30 tie with 14 consecutive points to take a 44-33 lead into intermission.
“I thought that was the key to the game--our run in the first half,” Valley Coach Doug Michelson said.
However, Bakersfield (23-11) battled back in the second half and tied the score, 49-49, with 13 minutes 58 seconds remaining. Bakersfield led, 59-58, with less than 10 minutes to play when Rush took control of the game.
Rush scored 11 points within two minutes and assisted Falicia Stanley on another basket to key a 15-4 run. Sylvia Castaneda put Valley ahead, 73-63, with 6:28 remaining.
“I was taking what was there, took advantage of the open shots,” said Rush, who has struggled of late. “I don’t know why. My shot seemed to be off. I didn’t have concentration.”
After Rush’s run, Bakersfield could pull no closer than seven points.
Playing one of her better games of the season, Castaneda had 16 points and nine assists.
“Castaneda had a superlative game, leadership, shooting the ball, defensively,” Michelson said.
Wendy Bruse continued her strong play in the state tournament, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Claudia Rocha and Ericka Miller came off the bench to score 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Rush scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field. Valley made more than 50% of its shots as a team and outrebounded Bakersfield, 46-39.
Bakersfield was led by Jill Stephens (20 points), Roni Scott (17) and Janel Vega (14), although Michelson considered his team’s efforts at defending the trio a success.
“We pretty much targeted their three players, Vega, Scott and Stephens and tried to take away their strengths,” said Michelson, whose team continues to play strong defense. “We intensified the pressure in spurts, and the pressure really allowed us to get back in the game.”