Lady Cougars move up in state rankings
When its playing seeding time, Lassen College's women's basketball team will fondly look back at last weekend. The Lady Cougars improved to 17-4 with a 64-38 win over Merritt College and 61-54 victory over No. 3 Contra Costa.
The home wins figure to propel Lassen into the top five in the state rankings and bolster its image among the state's coaches.
"Those wins were huge for us," Lassen head coach Mark Nareau said. "The Merritt game turned out to be easier than I thought, but getting a win over a top-ranked team like Contra Costa helps us down the road."
The Lady Cougars entered the games ranked ninth in the state and fourth in Northern California.
Jasmere Kirby, who is being courted by a host of Division I schools, led the way against Merritt with 17 points. Jamie Wagner added 13 points and Janelle Mack scored 10.
Contra Costa (18-5) held the lead most of the game, but let it slip away in the final minutes. Mack and Kirby trimmed the lead to two points with clutch shots at the 7:00-minute mark.
Then Modoc High School's Tatum Dunn drained a jumper with 4:32 left to tie the score at 50-50. Mack hit two free throws to give Lassen just its second lead of the game and Dunn followed with another jumper, giving the Lady Cougars a cushion they took to the end of the game.
Mack finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Kirby netted 17 and Wagner chipped in with eight points. Dunn's six points came in the second half.
"Janelle really stepped up in that game. We talked about her being more consistent and getting into an offensive frame of mind," Nareau said. "And Jasmere did a great job on (Iman) Young. She played exceptional on defense to hold her scoreless in the first half. Young is quick and can drive to the basket."
Young has already signed with Arizona State.
"And Tatum showed up big for us. She proved she is a clutch player and may make her way into the starting lineup," Nareau said.
At the San Jose City Tournament Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 27-29, Kirby arguably had the three best games of any player in the country.
The sophomore poured in 35 points to go with four rebounds and four assists in a 76-70 win over College of San Mateo.
Kirby followed up that performance by dropping in another 35 points to lead the Lady Cougars to a 82-67 victory over Sacramento City.
Then in the championship game, she netted 37 as Lassen lost 59-58 to San Jose City at the buzzer. Down 57-53 with a minute left, Jamie Wagner buried a three-pointer and after a Kirby steal, Dunn drained a pair of free throws to give the Lady Cougars a 58-57 lead.
San Jose City's Julie Robison drove the lane to hit the game winner.
"That was a game we should have won," Nareau said. "We didn't rebound well and except for Jasmere, the rest of the team scored only 21 points.
Kirby, who should have been named MVP of the tournament, received all-tournament honors with Wagner.
"Jasmere had an incredible tournament. She probably could have even scored more in all the games," Nareau said.
Against San Mateo, Wagner helped out with 15 points. Borella had 10 and Tara Davis scored nine.
Mack netted 17 against Sacramento City. Wagner added 14 and Borella had 10.
Lassen heads to Southern California this week to battle San Diego Mesa, Southwestern and Palomar.
Golden Valley Conference play begins Saturday, Jan. 19 when Shasta comes to Susanville.