Ron Gully wonders about details, team emotions and matchups like any basketball leader. He's a coach. It's in his blood to fret this time of year.
The Christian Brothers High School girls mentor explained before Tuesday night's tipoff at Cosumnes River College that nerves might unsettle some of his young players, and he wondered how they would collectively respond.
Fear not, coach. The Falcons continue to soar.
Using pressure defense, balanced scoring and playing hard yet composed, CBS filled the role of top seed with an 82-43 rout of No. 4 Placer in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal.
CBS (23-7) used a 19-0 run to close out the half in overwhelming the Hillgals (25-5) to reach Friday's title game at Sleep Train Arena against No. 2 Vanden. Elena Daniels led Placer with 12 points.
Gully's initial concerns were justified, given that he regularly plays five freshmen and upsets happen at this time of season.
Senior guard Niel Valmores led 11 Falcons scorers with 20. Junior guard Alicia Gonzalez had 15 and senior guard Ana Burch 13. Freshman guard Dominique McNeely had nine for CBS, which has won 11 consecutive games and 16 of 17. CBS won its other section girls basketball title in 2008, in Division IV, Gully's first season.
"We're peaking at the right time, playing really well," Gully said.
Gully is in his sixth varsity season as head coach. The retired police officer said he was asked what he would do when his daughter Alexis was finished as a CBS player four years ago. She is now a San Jose State senior and coaches a boys basketball team in her spare time.
"I told them that I'd still be right here because I love this school, and I'm blessed to coach this group," Gully said.
All section semifinalists in Divisions I-V advance to the NorCal Regionals that start next week.
No. 2 Vanden 66, No. 6 Modesto Christian 50 Mariah Williams had 15 points and Alex Bader 12 on four three-pointers for the Vikings, who took control with a 16-0 third-quarter run.
Modesto Christian boys 63, Weston Ranch-Stockton 58 The top-seeded Crusaders were led by T.J. Wallace (14 points) and Mason Washington (13) in reaching a 17th section final. The Crusaders (27-3) next face No. 2 Sierra of Manteca, which beat No. 3 Casa Roble 44-39.