SELMA — Clarissa Moreno’s clutch shot inside the post with 16.9 to play was the deciding factor in the Selma girls basketball team’s 58-56 win over Frontier High School at home in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation Div. III playoffs on Feb. 21.
Two days later, three-seeded Selma defeated sixth-seeded Sierra High School 74-68 in overtime at home in the quarterfinals.
With the win over Sierra, the Bears are one game away from playing for the CIF Central Section Div. III Championship at Selland Arena.
As for the first round game, it was one that went down to the wire. Moreno’s layup broke a 56-56 tie. Selma lead 55-44 with three minutes to play, but 14th-seeded Frontier wouldn’t go away that easy.
The Titans went on a 12-1 run after the Bears' fourth quarter lead.
“Clarissa’s effort has always been top shelf,” head coach Paul Romig said about Moreno’s go-ahead shot. “A lot of things that she’s able to do are off of that consistent effort. That was no different, so she’s been an important part just like many people of what we’re able to do.”
Moreno finished the night with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Other notable performers from Selma were Taj Pannu, who scored a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds. Lizette Moreno and Audrey Gonzalez each scored eight points.
Romig said that Frontier provided a potential trap game for his team and it was important to not overlook the Titans.
“I expected a close game,” Romig said. “I think what a lot of people didn’t see is Frontier plays in a league with a lot of Division I and II teams.”
After Selma took a 31-19 lead at halftime, Frontier full-court pressed the Bears, which helped the Titans in getting back into the game.
Romig said the girls adjusted well to Frontier’s game plan late in the game.
“We worked on that for the last couple of days, we expected them to press us,” he said. “I think all five people in the game played with poise and confidence and when we were able to break it, we were able to break it for points.”
The quarterfinal win over Sierra was another tough game for Selma and it was a close one throughout.
Both teams were tied after the first (16-16 score) and second (35-35) quarters.
Regulation wasn’t enough for the Bears and Chieftains, as both squads were tied at 64. The overtime period is when Selma pulled away by outscoring Sierra 10-4.
The Bears had three scorers in double-digits including Gonzalez, Madi Mares and Lizette Moreno. Gonzalez notched a double-double recording 27 points (a game-high) and 11 rebounds. Mares scored 19 points along with five assists while Lizette Moreno had 10 and was an assist away from a double-double (a game-high nine assists).
Selma’s road to Selland Arena will go through two-seeded Golden Valley High School on the road Wednesday, Feb. 28. Golden Valley will come into the semifinal game with a 25-6 overall record and 8-2 in the South Yosemite League. The Bulldogs finished in second place in the SYL this season.
If the Bears are victorious in the semifinals, the girls will face either top-seeded Fresno or No. 4 Immanuel in the CIF Central Section Div. III Championship on Saturday, March 3, at 2 p.m.
“Only good teams are left,” Romig said. “So if you’re going to beat a good team you have got to be able to execute and limit them with extra opportunities. As long as we do that, we play well.”