Girls basketball wins 8th-straight league title

By: Staff Report
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For the 8th straight season, the Sierra Foothill League girls basketball championship will remain in Loomis. Facing an uphill battle in SFL wars since suffering a 2-point loss to Nevada Union back on Jan. 27, coach Mike Takayama’s Del Oro Lady Eagles came up with an effort for the ages last Thursday night in Grass Valley. Playing Nevada Union on the road in a winner-take all contest for the SFL, the Lady Eagles rose up with a gallant effort that produced a 59-45 victory. The clutch performance by the Lady Eagles assured the Black and Gold their eighth consecutive SFL girls basketball championship. Sparked by a 25-point performance from standout junior guard Brianna Ruiz, the Lady Eagles grabbed a 29-24 halftime lead and then maintained their advantage over the final two quarters. Ruiz is the lone returning starter from last season’s Del Oro team, which reached the Northern California Div. II championship game. She scored nine of her game-high markers in the tell tale fourth quarter when the Lady Eagles turned back a final NU rally try. “We had so much energy,” Ruiz said. “We wanted it so bad and we had so much heart tonight. We just played our hardest.” The Eagles (9-1 SFL, 17-10) were set to host Rio Americano on Tuesday in a first round playoff game. With a win, Del Oro, a No. 5 seed, would advance to this evening’s second round against the winner of Tuesday’s contest between No. 4 Florin and No. 13 Kimball of Tracy. The Lady Eagles need to win two games to advance to the Div. II semi-finals, which are set for Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the University of Pacific in Stockton. In the win at NU, the Eagles led 41-37 with 41.5 seconds left in the third, before Stephanie Geyer hit a put-back shot over two defenders to end the quarter. The junior center added one more basket to start the fourth quarter before giving way to Ruiz. With the help of several well-placed screens, Ruiz used her quickness to get past the Miners two times in the final 5:18 for baseline lay-ups. The defense tried to cut her off after the first two baskets, but she took the contact and finished at the free throw line where she went 5 of 6 in the quarter. “We wanted to get the ball to Geyer a lot more and give her some space,” Takayama said. “When they started to double (Geyer) Paige (McKim) hit some shots and Jess (Hinsken) got some shots from the perimeter, now really it opened up a lot of things and Bri really had a fantastic night.” Geyer finished with 19 points and scored eight in the first quarter. “I think we were more of the veteran team tonight,” said Takayama, of how his team has matured. “They made some runs at us and we were able to hold them off. They’ve had a great year. They went the first round (of the regular season) undefeated and it’s tough.” Del Oro’s outright title-cinching win at NU almost didn’t happen as the Lady Eagles needed a game-winning bucket by Ruiz on Tuesday, with eight seconds left to play to defeat Woodcreek 46-44. Del Oro trailed 13-6 after one quarter and 26-19 at the half, before rallying to win the contest. Ruiz finished with 13 points and four assists. Stephanie Geyer had 11 points and 15 rebounds, while Natalie Sohn added eight points and seven boards. ~ Staff report SFL Girls Basketball (Final) W L Del Oro 9 1 N. Union 8 2 Rocklin 7 3 Granite Bay 1 9 Roseville 1 9