Lady Cougars fall in second round of playoffs
The search for a state championship ended abruptly in the second round of the Northern California Regional Playoffs for Lassen College's women's basketball team. Seeded No. 6, the Lady Cougars, ahead 36-31 at halftime, failed to hold the lead down the stretch, allowing No. 12 Reedley to catch fire from the perimeter and seal a 71-67 victory at the free throw line.
Lassen point guard Jasmere Kirby fouled out with two minutes to go and the Lady Cougars never recovered.
"That was the nail in the coffin," Lassen head coach Mark Nareau said. "She was trying to get open. That's not the type of foul you call in that situation. It was the poorest call of the night. The officials didn't cost us the game, but we didn't catch any breaks either."
Reedley's Kristi Woods buried a three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining in the game to put the Tigers up by a point and ensuing free throws did Lassen in.
Reedley hit 23 of 34 free throws, compared to Lassen's 10-for-20 from the line.
"Neither team shot well, but they rebounded well and kept the pressure on throughout the game. We didn't play nearly as well as we could have. If we were on our game, we probably would beat them seven out of 10 times," Nareau said.
Kirby led the way with 19 points. Jamie Wagner scored 18 and Jasmine Borella added 14.
Lassen finished the season at 28-8. Reedley (27-12) fell to No. 4 Foothill (26-9) in the semifinals.
Representing Northern California at this weekend's Final Eight are Butte (29-4), College of Marin (27-8), San Joaquin Delta (28-6) and Foothill.
Nareau said maybe his players were tired after a tough preseason scheduled and competitive Golden Valley Conference campaign.
"We played a lot of games and many of those were close games and against very good teams. But the players stayed focused throughout the year and played hard. I told them if this is their biggest setback in life, then they are going to have a great life."
As for next year, Nareau said recruiting efforts have been ongoing.
Sophomores Janelle Mack, Kirby and Wagner may be headed to Sacramento State in a package deal. Sabrina Dixon is also on her way out.
Nareau will fill holes, surrounding returners Jeris Evans, Tara Davis, Tatum Dunn, Stephanie Combes and Borella.
"Jeris really stepped up her game late in the season and the rest of the freshmen figure to be the core of the team next year. I hope we can keep the winning tradition going," Nareau said.