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T-Girls advance to SCL Tournament finals

Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.

Petaluma rushed to a double digit lead in the first half, and made it hold up for a 44-30 win over Healdsburg on Thursday to move into the finals of the Sonoma County League Tournament on Saturday night. The SCL regular season champs will face surprising Analy in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. at Santa Rosa Junior College.

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Petaluma's Joelle Krist tries to drive past Healdsburg's Hailey Roux during their basketball game at Petaluma High School on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.

Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

Analy turned the tables on second-place Sonoma Valley with a 54-48 upset win in the Dragon gym in the other semifinal contest. The Tigers suffered two narrow defeats at the hands of Sonoma during the regular season.

Front-line players Allison Scranton and Joelle Krist worked their way inside for 13 points between them to help Petaluma break from the gate early against the Hounds. Foul trouble however forced the aggressive hosts to make numerous substitutions, and the game got a little ragged late in the first half. Scranton left the proceedings with her second foul, and 5:46 remaining in the second quarter. The T-Girls still managed to lead 27-15 at intermission.

Scranton continued her steady improvement with 10 points, all on short bank shots around the basket after getting into inside position on the deep block. Her footwork in the late stages of the SCL regular season has captured the attention of her teammates, who now look for her on almost every offensive possession on both sides of the key. Scranton also led both teams in rebounds with 10.

Krist, who has battled inconsistency in only her sophomore season, had one of her best this time around. Healdsburg was not able to shut down the baseline against the hard-driving forward, who filled up the scorebook with seven points, five rebounds and four assists in the first half alone.

“I was disappointed in the way I played against Sonoma even though we were all happy with the way it ended,” she said candidly. “Three quick fouls, and I was out of there last week. I was hoping to play tonight more like I have most of the year. I did get a 3-pointer for the first time in a while. All of our players want to go as far as we can this season.”

Before she exited in the third period on three fouls, Krist added a basket before re-entering in the final period.

Krist, Kierra Lizama, and Katy Bisges all looked to get the ball into the pivot with passes that have become more effective as the season has moved forward. “I began to see that Allison got herself in scoring position much better in the first Sonoma game,” explained Krist, who threaded some effective bounce passes past the Hound defenders. “Assists are the first thing I look for now when coach passes out our statistics.”

There was some doubt as to the availability of top scorer Bisges after her dangerous topsy-turvy spill in the middle of the Sonoma game last Thursday. “Katy had a headache and sore neck causing her to miss some practice time, and she got sick later, but she was better yesterday,” noted coach Doug Johnson. “I think she will be ready to go at full speed on Saturday.”

Johnson was surprised at the outcome of the Analy game, but said he felt that the Tigers might have won at least one of the two meetings against Sonoma in the regular season. “We may match-up better against Analy,” he concluded.

Healdsburg came into the game with a very young team, as only one senior player is listed on the Hound roster. Sophomore Ivanna Olivarez canned a couple of 3-pointers to end as a co-leader scoring for the visitors with six points.

Helen Ann Haun was a driving dynamo most of the night for the Lady Greyhounds, slashing down the middle for six points and forcing several Petaluma fouls. Healdsburg might have made things closer, but converted on only nine for 19 from the line.

The Hounds finished in fourth place in the SCL with an overall record of 15-12 and a good chance to make some noise in the Division IV North Coast Section playoffs beginning next week.

Eight of the 11 suited players scored for Petaluma, led by Krist with 14 points. Reliable Claire Prieto continued to be in the right spot around the basket and added six points in limited minutes.

“I would say that I was pleased with most of our effort tonight,” said Johnson. “it was like 75-25 percent. We do use a lot of players, but I would like to finish the game stronger.”

The ball handling of Lizama, Bisges, Cassie Baddeley and Lisa Guptil was again solid for the T-Girls against Healdsburg's full-court pressure defense as Petaluma improved to a notable 23-4 heading into the showdown against Analy. Lizama continued to force the tempo during her watch with penetration from the perimeter area and good things for the T-Girls resulted.

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