HANFORD — The Golden Bears made it seven wins in a row after an explosive fourth quarter gave them arguably their biggest win of the season.
Sierra Pacific (12-6, 5-0 ESL) took down San Joaquin Memorial 72-64 after outscoring them 26-10 in the final quarter. The Golden Bears trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half and eight in the fourth.
“The girls worked incredibly hard, they were going after the ball, having composure in the end,” Sierra Pacific coach Amy Bush said. “I’m just incredibly proud of them.”
After the Panthers (10-7, 2-0 CML) scored to give themselves a five-point lead with 6:24 left in the fourth, the Golden Bears went on a 12-0 run.
Makayla Carre, a freshman for Sierra Pacific, came up big and scored 12 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, including the first eight points of the run.
“It was just the help of my teammates and how we did so good during the second half,” Carre said.
The momentum-changing run was capped by Carre’s layup and gave them a 65-58 lead with 2:37 to go. Carre exited the game in the third quarter with a knee injury, but returned in the fourth for her impressive performance.
“I needed to help my team, they needed me and I just needed to help them,” Carre said about battling through her injury.
A San Joaquin Memorial 3-pointer cut the lead to four, but Celeste Lewis, who finished with a triple-double, drove into the lane for an easy floater. A defensive stop ended the Panthers’ comeback hopes.
“It’s just the IQ and the confidence,” Lewis said. “At first we were a little hesitant, but then we just got our confidence back and we just treated it as another hard game we need to play.”
Lewis scored a team-high 19 points coupled with 13 assists and 11 rebounds. Her assists tied a season-high and she was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. It was her second triple-double of the season, according to MaxPreps.
“This [win] shows that we’re ready and it sets a bigger example for us,” Lewis said. “All of our hard work is starting to pay off.”
Sierra Pacific quickly found themselves trailing 10-1 before Alana Roberts’ putback and 3-pointer brought the team to within four.
Roberts had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She did most of her scoring in the first half with 12 points and helped lift the team after their slow start.
The Golden Bears ended the quarter on an 11-4 run and trailed 15-12 after the first.
“We talked about different things that we need to do and get our head in the game,” Bush said. “Making good passes, sprinting back … San Joaquin Memorial they’re great athletes, great shooters … and we just needed to get out closer to them when they’re shooting.”
Sierra Pacific briefly took a 22-20 lead — their first of the game — on Lauren Zantos’ basket, but San Joaquin Memorial ended the half on an 8-0 run.
The third quarter saw the Panthers take a 45-32 lead after a 5-0 spurt. Lewis scored the next eight points to cut the deficit to five before the Panthers ended the quarter with a 54-46 lead.
The Golden Bears are now 3-5 against Division I or II opponents this season. Their wins have come against Summit (D-II), Hanford (D-I) and now San Joaquin Memorial (D-II). Even their losses against higher division opponents have been close with the average margin of defeat being 8.2 points.
“They were able to take things over from practice onto the court and the game,” Bush said. “Last year we struggled with using the clock and knowing our time and having composure. I see them more mature this year and able to know what to do with the ball.”
Sierra Pacific will resume league play on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. against Woodlake (2-13, 1-3 ESL) at home. The Golden Bears are currently in first place in the East Sequoia League.
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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.
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