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NorCal basketball roundup: Laytonville girls win in upset

Laytonville's Akeela James (32) drives toward the basket while Rincon Valley Christian's Anika Ahlstrom (33) defends during the first half of the NCS Division 6 girls varsity basketball championship game in Santa Rosa on Saturday, March 3, 2018. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

RICHARD J. MARCUS,

A furious fourth quarter propelled the shorthanded underdog No. 6 Laytonville girls to an improbable 48-41 upset of No. 3 Ripon Christian on Wednesday night in their Division 6 opening-round game of the CIF NorCal basketball playoffs.

Not only did the visiting Warriors win, but they did so with only six players becuase three players missed the game due to illness. The Knights suited up 15 players.

“We have never won a big game like this with six players,” Laytonville coach Corey James said. “We had to conserve energy, so we played it slow. We played zone defense and we normally play man. We played a great defensive game. This was our best game all year.”

Ripon Christian (17-13) led 36-34 after three quarters, but Laytonville (25-4) turned on the burners in the fourth quarter, winning it 14-5 to earn the victory.

“We won the fourth quarter and we took advantage of mismatches. We were executing down low and dumping the ball into the block,” James said. “In the end, our offense played well.”

Laytonville was paced by Akeela James (16 points, 10 rebounds), Mitiea Taylor (13 points) and Mercrea James (12 points).

Laytonville travels to No. 2 Redding Christian (Palo Cedro) for a regional semifinal game on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Rincon Valley Christian 44, Forest Lake 41

The No. 4 Eagles (22-8) profited from a huge disparity in points from free throws (14-0) to edge out the No. 5 Falcons (20-7) of Auburn in an opening-round Division 6 game.

RVC was 14-for-18 from the free-throw line while Forest Lake Christian was 0-for-5.

“The difference was we went inside with the ball and got fouled. We have big girls who get fouled and they make their free throws,” RVC coach Richard Higgenbottom said. “We didn’t commit our fouls during their act of shooting.”

The Eagles started out slow and trailed 8-2 at the first quarter’s end. RVC also lost starting point guard Alyssa Hammer in the quarter due to a hip injury. She is questionable for RVC’s next game.

“This was two very good defensive teams early on,” Higgenbottom said. “Both teams missed some shots early.”

Caroline Chambers (24 points, 10 rebounds) and Elizabeth Chambers (12 points, 14 rebounds) led the Eagles.

Jessi Dreschler led the Falcons with 18 points.

RVC travels five hours north for the regional semifinal game at 6 p.m. Saturday against No. 1 Fall River of McArthur. The Bulldogs are the defending Division 6 champions.

“We will be underdogs, we are hurt and we are going to play up in thin air,” Higgenbottom said. “But we’ve got a big heart.”

Clear Lake 59, Golden Sierra 38

In a NorCal Division 5 opening-round game, the host No. 2 Cardinals (24-5) easily defeated the No. 15 Grizzlies (18-11) of Garden Valley by jumping out to a huge lead early and coasting in the second half.

Clear Lake led 22-7 after the first quarter and 42-16 at halftime.

“I never would have expected 42 points in the first half, so that is excellent from where I sit,” Clear Lake coach Kory Reynolds said. “Our defense was pretty good. We put a press on in the first half.”

Reynolds said he put his best defender on Golden Sierra’s star scorer, Rachel Loya (19 points), and it paid off.

“Getting a big lead and playing tough defense on Loya and keeping the rest of their team down was the key,” Reynolds said.

Kortnie Reynolds (20 points, 5 rebounds), Valerie Hutton (12 points) and Kiana Richardson (9 points, 18 rebounds) led the Cardinals.

Clear Lake hosts No. 10 Modoc at 6 p.m. Saturday in a regional semifinal game.

In boys games:

Sacramento Adventist 60, Laytonville 49

The dream season came to an end for the No. 3 host Warriors (26-5) as they were upset by the No. 6 Capitals (26-6) of Carmichael in a NorCal Division 6 opening-round matchup.

“Adventist came into our house and gave it to us. That is one good basketball team. They are deep and tall. They were super physical,” Laytonville coach Josh Firks said. “We could have been emotionally drained and fatigued after our big win in the NCS championship” (on Saturday).

Laytonville trailed 13-9 at the end of the first quarter but lost the second quarter 16-7 to trail 29-16 at halftime.

“We lost it in the second quarter. We had a lapse and they went on a 10-0 run,” Firks said. “We definitely weren’t on our game in the first half.”

Liam Maizner (19 points) and Nathen Luna (16 points) led the Warriors, who have six seniors on their squad.

Sacramento Adventist was led by Shane Jones (15 points) and Breckin Beaman (13 points).

“I’m so proud and honored how the kids did this season. This was a once-in-a-lifetime season,” Firks said. “We brought back pride to the school and the community.”