SRJC women’s basketball team set for state tournament

It’s been a long wait, but Santa Rosa Junior College is back on the big stage.|

It’s been a long wait, but Santa Rosa Junior College is back on the big stage.

The school’s women’s basketball team is heading to the state tournament this weekend for the first time in 10 years.

It’s been quite the season so far for the Bear Cubs, who are the Northern California regional champions, the undefeated Big 8 conference champions and hold an overall record of 28-2.

The players will be the first ones to tell you, however, that records don’t matter when it comes to the state showdown. They haven’t paid much attention to their record, anyway.

“We’re excited to be going there and getting an opportunity, but we have to get business done first,” Sophomore guard Ciarah Michalik said.

To make it to state, the Bear Cubs had to subdue a tough Laney offense in last week’s 71-46 win, as well as keep their foot on the gas against Napa Valley in their 81-39 regional bracket victory.

In those two games, SRJC’s defense gave up an average of 42.5 points, while their offense scored an average of 76.

SRJC, the No. 2 seed from the NorCal bracket in this weekend’s tournament, will have its hands full in the first round with Mt. San Antonio, the three seed from the Southern California bracket and a regular at the state tournament. The Mounties, led by head coach Brian Crichlow, come in with an overall record of 23-7 and a perfect conference record of 8-0.

“They’re a solid offensive team,” SRJC head coach Lacey Campbell said of Friday’s first-round opponent. “They run a lot of on-ball screens and are very well coached. (Crichlow) is a great coach; I have a lot of respect for him.”

“They’re not going to put up 70-80 points a night, because they’re really defensive-minded,” Campbell continued. “They’re a lot like us, I guess — a battle of two defensive coaches. Offensively, they have a couple kids that can score and are pretty balanced among their guards. They’re talented.”

That defensive-mindedness could play into the Bear Cubs’ hands. While SRJC doesn’t have a clear top scorer this season, they do have some shooters.

Analy alum Lucca Lowenberg is at the top of that list. The 5-foot-5 wing hit four triples in the win over Napa, but her best performance behind the arc was against Cosumnes River, when she drained 10 three-pointers.

Another one to watch out for is Michalik. The Montgomery alum doesn’t let it fly too often, but she can drain it with the best of them. The Bear Cubs’ facilitator scored 16 points against Laney.

And of course, in perhaps her best stretch of the season, there’s Lanie Lincoln. A Ukiah grad, Lincoln went 5-for-6 from deep against Laney and 4-of-7 against Napa.

“I think it shows that we trust each other, and that we’re willing to make that extra pass,” sophomore Bear Cubs guard/forward Sheriene Arikat said of the team’s balance. “I know on a lot of other teams, you can’t trust others. I think our trust has been shown not in points but in assists and other things like that. It’s been a big factor in our season.”

“If someone is having a bad day, someone else is going to pick up the pieces, and that’s what makes us so dangerous,” Michalik added.

The California Community College Athletic Association’s tournament starts Friday and runs through Sunday at West Hills College in the Central Valley town of Lemoore, near Fresno. It features the “Elite Eight” of four teams from Northern California (SRJC, Sierra, Butte and College of the Sequoias) and four from Southern California (Mt. San Antonio, Cypress, Orange Coast and Palomar).

SRJC will tip off against Mt. San Antonio at 1 p.m. Friday.

You can reach Staff Writer Kienan O’Doherty at 415-887-8650 or On Twitter @kodoherty22.

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