At a renowned basketball school such as Sacramento High, pressure comes with the territory.
But the need to succeed was even a little stronger for the top-seeded Dragons girls in Tuesday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal against No. 4 Vanden at Cosumnes River College.
The Sac High boys had suffered a shocking 90-81 loss at home Friday against Lodi in the D-II quarterfinals, marking the first time since 2004 that the boys wouldn't be playing at Power Balance Pavilion for a section title.
"In the past, the boys would take some of the pressure off us because we knew every year they'd be going to Arco with us," said Sac High senior leader Jasmine Ware, a UC Santa Barbara signee.
During the first half against Vanden, the Dragon girls forced shots and fouled too often. They held a 25-21 halftime lead.
But with the 5-foot-10 Ware leading the way, the Dragons outscored the Vikings 27-3 during the first 12 minutes and 45 seconds of the second half and cruised to a 54-32 victory.
Sac High will play No. 3 Modesto Christian, an 86-62 winner over No. 2 Christian Brothers in the other semifinal, for the D-III title 7:30 p.m. Friday at Power Balance.
Ware led Sacramento (25-6) with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Ayanna Edwards, a 6-4 sophomore post, added seven points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
After the boys lost, Ware was in the gym the next day taking an additional 75 minutes of shooting practice.
It paid off against Vanden (21-8).
To open the third quarter, Ware made a layup, then hit two three-pointers as the Dragons outscored Vanden 17-2 in the period.
"She hit some big shots," Sac coach Michele Massari said. "Jasmine has worked so incredibly hard to become a jump shooter. She shoots on her own twice a day and always does extra shooting before games."
A few hours before heading off to Cosumnes River, Ware coaxed assistant Al Green into a 15-minute shooting session.
"I was begging him because he's also a personal trainer," Ware said. "I asked him if he could switch a couple of people around on his schedule to work with me."
Modesto Christian (girls) 86, Christian Brothers 62 Jasmine Hampton and Lexi Tubbs each had 19 points to lead the Crusaders (25-5) past the Falcons (23-7). Niel Valmores led four Christian Brothers players in double figures with 15 points.
Sierra (boys) 67, Center 50 Senior guard Tim Thornton scored 24 points, including six of eight three-pointers, to lead the Timberwolves (27-2) of Manteca past the No. 3 Cougars (21-8). Myles Hunter had 16 points and Christopher Smith 15 for Center.
Foothill (boys) 59, Lindhurst 39 Trailing the fourth-seeded Blazers 26-21 at the half, the top-seeded Mustangs (27-3) outscored Lindhurst 19-7 in the third quarter to advance to Friday's final against Sierra.