Injuries and a rare, emphatic league loss suggested there might be a dent in the armor that is the Sacramento Dragons dynasty.
No chance. The Dragons emerged better from the adversity, punctuated with a satisfying if exhausting 53-52 triumph of top-seeded McNair of
Stockton on Saturday afternoon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship at Sleep Train Arena.
Sacramento (23-8) won its fourth successive title, the last two in D-II. The Dragons led 33-18 in the first half and then withstood a barrage
of three-point shots by the Eagles (26-4) to celebrate a frantic finish.
Ayanna Edwards blocked a shot in the lane and snatched the rebound with 9.5 seconds left, and Alana Matthews made the deciding free throw
with 5.5 seconds to go.
When an NBA-range three-pointer by McNair’s Tiara Tucker just missed at the buzzer, Sacramento players mobbed tough-love coach MicheleMassari.
This was a far cry from the low point of the season, a 54-29 setback to Metropolitan Conference rival McClatchy, a loss later avenged.
Edwards, a member of the Dragons’ last four title teams, scored 11 points and had 21 rebounds, a section championship record for a regulation game
. Paula Johnson had 22 rebounds for Rio Americano in a D-I overtime win in 1978. Najah Queenland had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Simone Sheppard had six points and four rebounds, Aliceah Hernandez scored nine points, and CourtseyClark had five points and four rebounds as the Dragons displayed their offensive balance and defensive tenacity.
“I commend this team,” Massari said. “We’ve overcome so many injuries, including Chaya Durr. It’s a special team.”
Durr, a senior guard and the team’s top returning player, tore her ACL last summer. She had surgery and still signed with UC Santa Barbara on scholarship. Durr sat on the team bench all season and was in the middle of the celebration.
“So happy for her because it’s no fun to sit and watch,” Massari said.
Sacramento likely will be an Open Division team for the Northern California Regional, to be announced today.
Division IV girls: Bradshaw Christian 43, West Campus 32 – This wasn’t supposed to be Bradshaw Christian’s year. The Pride graduated three starters and had no JV program to draw from, yet it celebrated its fifth title in six seasons and second in a row by beating the Warriors.
Jordyn Bell had 23 points and 15 rebounds and Erika Bean had 12 points, six steals and four assists for Bradshaw Christian (20-6). Barbara Keomany had 17 points to lead the Warriors (20-7) in a game that was more about grit than elegance as the teams combined for 47 turnovers and 37 fouls.
At times this season, because of illness and injuries, the Pride has competed with five able bodies.
“It’s all good, though,” said coach Mike Ruble, also Bradshaw Christian’s athletic director and boys basketball coach. “I knew we
were small in numbers. But I also knew what we had. To watch it come together – the girls are really super competitive, savvy and a lot of fun.”
Bradshaw Christian is 6-0 in section finals – four in D-V and the last two in D-IV. It has a playoff record of 24-2 in its short history of high school athletics.
The Pride also could end up with the top seed in the regional if D-IV Bay Area powers Salesian of Richmond and St.
Mary’s of Berkeley are moved to the Open Division, as expected.