Lady Golden Eagles end successful season with playoff loss to College of the Sequoias

By Ed Martin, Editor

In just three short years, Lemoore’s women’s basketball team has gone from an also-ran to a serious contender. However, the Lady Golden Eagles may need another year or two to reach the pinnacle of community college basketball – a state title.

Despite an impressive 20-10 season, one that included a tournament championship and a 7-5 record in the Central Valley Conference, one of the toughest in California, Coach Andrea Picchi’s Eagles lost on Saturday night in the second round of the community college playoffs 102-72 to the section’s top seed, College of the Sequoias.

In the end the Eagles simply didn’t have enough height to keep up with the taller Giants as COS broke open what was a close contest in the first half by scoring 61 second half points to top the century mark in scoring. The Lady Giants were led by Carissa Turley and Vanessa Mancera, who tossed in 24 and 22 points respectively.

West Hills was led by Kalia Parker, playing her final game as a member of the Golden Eagles, with 15 points. Samantha Earl and Maria Ulrieta Holmes each had 13. Jayla English tossed in 9 points while Janissa Pates and Kim Alfors each had 8 points. COS (28-3) will host Fresno City College in the state’s third round at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

“I think the kids, like tonight, and through the course of the season, fought so hard and it’s kind of symbolic when you’re building a program and you’re in your third year and you have the goals that we have that some say are a little bit lofty, it can be a roller coast ride,” said Picchi following the tough loss. “You’re pushing as hard as you can … and I think our kids have been resilient. Resilient and grit are two words that I use a lot. It hasn’t always been easy.”

The Lady Eagles fell behind early but kept pace with the Giants much of the first half. Trailing 9-2, freshman Sarah Burr-Griggs broke the scoring drought and Parker tossed in a 2-pointer to cut the Giant lead to 11-6. Parker scored again as the Eagles cut the gap to 12-8.

Earl’s 3-pointer got the Eagles to within a point at 12-11 before the Giants’ Hannah Ramirez scored to put COS up 14-11.

Trailing 32-23 with a little over five minutes left in the first half, The Eagles scored four straight on baskets by Janissa Pates and Kiesha Loftin to cut the gap to 32-27, but COS woke up and scored on four straight possessions to take a 41-29 lead into the half.

The Giants broke it open in the second half outscoring West Hills 61-43. All in all, despite the loss, Picchi says this year’s team was a big boost to West Hills College and the program.

“We want to make our own road. We want to create our own path,” she said. “So that’s the beauty of creating a new program. We get to create those roads and I think we created a road for next year’s team that’s pretty bright and I think we’ve got a good start. I’m so proud of them, they played so hard and we’re outmatched some nights and … they just rise up… I’m very proud.”

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