On Dec. 3, the Fall River girls basketball team opened its 2019-2020 season at home with a 66-22 demolition of the Tulelake Honkers. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-8 halftime lead and were never challenged.
A cursory glance at the scoreboard might imply more of the same, as Fall River advanced to the semifinals of the Division VI girls tournament on the strength of a 38-point blowout over those same Honkers, winning 75-37. All playoff coverage is presented by Redding Rancheria.
But that would not tell the whole story, nor give credit due the Bulldogs for a much stronger game over a much better opponent.
The Honkers came into the game having won the Evergreen League, going 11-1 in league after a rough preseason. The Bulldogs came in 10-0 in league, 20-4 overall, looking like a solid challenger for a section title.
Early in the first quarter, Fall River rode their defense to a 24-12 lead. The Bulldogs were led by Natalie Osborne, Myah Gallion, Rylee Pevehouse, and Alexis Easley, whose aggressive suffocating defensive press led to six first quarter steals and five other turnovers. It was a good thing the Fall River guards were playing such good defense, because the rare times the Honkers got to shoot the ball, most of their shots went in. Fall River was a bit off shooting the ball early, but Marissa Leighton got it going late in the quarter offensively to allow the Bulldogs to overcome the hot shooting of Tulelake and build a lead.
In the second quarter. The Bulldogs shooting improved, but they had some unforced turnovers early. When Fall River took a timeout two minutes into the quarter, they had only outscored Tulelake 6-4 and errant passes were an issue. But then Fall River ended the quarter with a 21-4 run, fueled by more steals and more fast breaks and the halftime score was 51-20.
But despite the big lead, this Tulelake team kept fighting, kept scrapping. Their defense never slackened, even with the big margin, their shooting stayed solid, and Fall River extended the 31-point halftime lead by only 7 to a 38-point victory.
All 11 players scored for Fall River, led by Leighton with 22 and Ciena Gregory and Natalie Osborne who both had 10. Unofficially, Ciena added 9 rebounds to her 10 points, Natalie Osborne added 5 steals and 4 assists to her 10 points, and Leighton had six rebounds to go with her 22 points.
Fall River hosts section finalist Etna on Wednesday night in the semifinal while in the other half of the bracket, Redding Christian will host Loyalton.
Tulelake 12- 8-7-10–37
Fall River 24-27-12-12–75
Tulelake (13-12): Kandra 16, Perez 8, Arellano 8, Chavez 4, Flores 1
Fall River (21-4): Leighton 22, Osborne 10, Gregory 10, Gallion 8, Pevehouse 6, Easley 4, Royal 4, Humphries 4, Bucher 3, Robbins 2, Westlund 2
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