SRJC 70, Sacramento City College 66
For the Championship of their own tournament, the Bear Cubs (5-3) had to go up against a tough Big 8 foe, the Panthers of Sacramento City College (8-2), who had defeated another Big 8 team--San Joaquin Delta (10-2)--in the previous round in overtime 65-59. The Panthers swished two 3-pointers in the opening two minutes of the contest before Niambi Saint Louis scored on a running hook shot with 7:41 on the clock. The Panthers then sank two more from beyond the arc and two field goals to run out to a 16-2 lead after nearly 8 minutes of play. During this time the Bear Cubs committed seven turnovers and missed five shots. Kerianne Noonen finally made a field goal with one minute in the quarter. When the quarter ended the Bear Cubs found themselves in a hole 4-16.
The Bear Cubs started the second quarter with a field goal by Vai Thompson, and a 3-pointer each by Kerianne Noonen and Brooke Santander. The Panthers hit a 3-pointer 12 seconds later, making their lead 19-12. When they hit another 3-pointer with 4:39 on the clock, their lead was up to 24-16. The Bear Cubs' defense held, while on the offensive side Niambi Saint Louis, Ashley Hart, and Noonen each sank two free throws, and Madison Barsuglia banked in a runner as she was losing her balance to tie the score at 24 with 1:10 left. The Panthers made one of two free throws with 7 seconds to go to take a 25-24 lead into halftime.
The Panthers scored the first four points of the third quarter before Brooke Santander sank a field goal and added two free throws at the 8:18 mark. Kylie Oden's 3-pointer 67 seconds later gave the Bear Cubs their first lead 31-30. The Panthers retook the lead on their next possession. Two free throws by Kylie Oden and one by Brooke Santander put the Bear Cubs in front again 34-31 with 5:40 left in the quarter. The Panthers scored seven unanswered points to go back in front 38-34 with 1:50 remaining. Brooke Santander made two free throws then so did the Panthers. Kerianne Noonen made the Bear Cubs' final field goal of the quarter with 47 seconds left, then the Panthers made theirs with 29 seconds to go, to end the period ahead 42-38.
Niambi Saint Louis hit two field goals during the first 64 seconds of the fourth quarter and Vai Thompson made a single free throw about a minute later for a 43-42 lead. Following a single successful free throw by a Sac City player, Brooke Santander swished a 3-pointer from four feet beyond the arc at the 5:43 mark. Two possessions later Zaina Depina drove baseline and dropped in a layup inside two defenders for a 48-43 lead. The Panthers bounced back with a 3-pointer and two free throws to tie the score. Melyra Nicolis was fouled on a shot attempt and made both free throws. The Panthers converted three of four free throws for a 51-50 advantage with three minutes in the quarter. Then Brooke Santander flashed through the lane, received the pass and put in the field goal and was fouled. She made the free throw for a 53-52 lead with 2:48 left. A putback by Melyra Nicolis and one of two free throws by Kerianne Noonen put the Bear Cubs in front 56-52 with 23 seconds on the clock. The Panthers' leading scorer, Aleea Reese, swished a 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining. Following a timeout, the Bear Cubs inbounded to Noonen who drew a foul two seconds later. She made both free throws for a 58-55 lead. The Panthers pushed the ball up the court and got the ball to Reese who again swished a 3-pointer to tie the game at 58 with 5 seconds left. Following a timeout the Bear Cubs inbounded to Noonen who drove to the basket and ended up on the floor with no foul called. The buzzer sounded sending the game into overtime for five minutes.
The Panthers scored the first three points of the overtime period on a single free throw and a field goal by Reese to move in front 61-58 at the 3:50 mark. Kerianne Noonen made one of two free throws nine seconds later and Vai Thompson banked in a close shot in traffic 30 seconds after that to tie the game. Then Reese went to the free throw line three times, making three out of six free throws to stretch her team's lead to 64-61 with 2:29 to go. Noonen hit a jumper with 2:09 to play. The Panthers hit a field goal with 1:01 showing on the clock to give them a 66-63 edge. Then Kylie Oden responded with a 3-pointer 46 seconds later, tying the score at 66. The Panthers missed their next shot attempt, and the Bear Cubs turned the ball over on their half of the court. When the Panthers tried to get a shot off, Niambi Saint Louis blocked it and Brooke Santander grabbed the rebound. She was fouled and then went to the line to sink both free throws for a 68-66 lead with 8.8 seconds to go. The Panthers were able to push the ball and got off a shot that bounced off the rim. Kyle Oden grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.7 seconds on the clock. She made both free throws. The Panthers got off a desperation shot that fell way short as the final buzzer sounded. The hard-fought 70-66 victory earned the Bear Cubs the Championship honors.
Brooke Santander led the Bear Cubs in scoring with 18 points, including two 3-pointers and 8 out of 9 from the free throw line. Kerianne Noonen tallied 17 points on three field goals, one 3-pointer, and 8 out of 10 free throws. She led the team in assists with 4. Kylie Oden and Niambi Saint Louis both totaled 10 points each. Vai Thompson contributed 5 points and a team-high 7 rebounds. Melyra Nicolis added 4 points, while Zaina Depina, Madison Barsuglia, and Ashley Hart each scored two points. Niambi Saint Louis blocked 5 shots and her play on both ends of the court in the two games the Bear Cubs played earned her Tournament MVP honors.
Also making the All Tournament them were Brooke Santander and for the Panthers Jessica Lauderdale and Aleea Reese.
Photo Credit: Riley Mohr