Dragons drag down Del Oro girls

By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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SACRAMENTO — Katrina Salinas did just enough damage to prolong Sacramento High’s playoff dominance of Del Oro. Salinas opened the second quarter with four straight 3-pointers in a span of less than two minutes, part of a 16-4 run the No. 3 Dragons used to beat the No. 2 Golden Eagles 55-42 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal Wednesday night at Consumnes River College. “That put us down a little bit,” said junior guard Madeline Campbell, who finished with 12 points. “It was hard to recover from that because it was just so fast and it all happened in a row. By the time we knew how to defend her, she already had all those. That hurt us.” Sacramento ousted Del Oro from the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, but this was the closest final margin. “We had chances to be right in that game tonight and we couldn’t say that the last few years,” Eagles head coach Mike Takayama said. “We played pretty well in the second half but by that time they had their margin and pretty much that was the margin of victory, but we competed for 32 minutes. I’m very proud of the effort that we put out there.” From the moment 6-foot-1 junior Belle Obert won the opening tip over the Dragons’ 6-foot-3 senior center Kyra Dunn, Del Oro played with passion and Sacramento looked out of sync. The Eagles took their largest lead, 9-6, on a pair of Campbell free throws with 3:58 left in the first quarter. Del Oro led 11-10 entering the second quarter before Salinas took the game over. She made her first four attempts from beyond the arc, giving the Dragons a 22-15 advantage on a 3-pointer 6:09 before halftime. “When I made my first one I was like, ‘OK, I got this,’” said Salinas, a senior guard who had made 60 of 125 long-range attempts entering the game. “Then I made my second one and I was like, ‘OK, now I’m on fire.’ When I made my third one, I was like, ‘OK, now give me the ball, me give me the ball.’ “That wasn’t Sac High in the first quarter. Coach told us in the huddle to get it together. They had a run, and then it was our time to run. I hit my 3s, and then we all started going.” Sacramento led 30-19 at intermission and maintained a modest double-digit cushion throughout the second half, despite a game-high 24 points from Eagles’ junior forward Crystal Sewell. “We play such a hard schedule to begin with so we’re prepared for anything,” Dragons head coach Michele Massari said. “We’ve been down and we’ve been up. They came out really confident and I applaud that, but in the end, we knew that we had a lot more to give than we showed in that first quarter.” While Dunn was a non-factor — Obert held her to eight points — the speedy combination of Salinas on the perimeter and point guard Brittany Shine slashing through the lane proved too difficult to defend as both players scored 15. “It felt like we would work really hard to cover Shine and then Salinas would hit one or we’d work really hard to cover Dunn and then she would kick it out and Shine would hit one,” Campbell said. “It felt like everyone had to be at the top of their defensive game and there were just a few times when we weren’t.” By advancing to the semifinals, Del Oro earned a coveted berth in the newly expanded CIF Northern California Regional Championships. “We definitely showed that we belong in NorCals,” Takayama said. “We’re really happy with where we’re at and we’ll see who we play. We’ll work on our defense a little bit but offensively we showed we can score against anybody. We have some weapons of our own so we’ll see if we can do some damage in NorCals.” The tournament kicks off on Monday. Pairings will be announced Sunday and, barring an out-bracket game, the Eagles will likely be on the road for their opener against a power from another section. “It’s a great feeling that this isn’t the end of our season,” Campbell said. “Last year it was the end and it was hard to go out on that note. This year we have more to look forward to. I’m so proud of our team. We fought to the last second. We really prepared ourselves for this game and now we’re ready to go into NorCals strong.”