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Foothill upended by Weinrich, Willows in opening round of 46th Harlan Carter

Willows' Megan Weinrich dribbles around Foothill junior Emma Roach during the marquee game of the 46th annual girls Harlan Carter Invitational at Foothill High School Thursday night. Willows won 60-47 with Weinrich scoring 33 points. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

PALO CEDRO – It didn’t take long for Foothill to come back down to earth.

The Cougars couldn’t parlay last weekend’s Arcata Invitational championship on the North Coast into a win on their home floor, falling 60-47 to Willows in the opening round of the 46th Harlan Carter Thursday night.

“It’s probably the nerves of playing on our home court,” said Foothill coach Stephanie Ahluwalia. “I have a lot of juniors in their first varsity Harlan Carter and they were nervous because shots we normally make didn’t fall and the little stuff killed us like double-dribbling or not rebounding when we needed to.”

When the tournament brackets were released, Willows coach Carol Martin noticed the pairing against the tourney host and used that as motivation for her girls. Although Willows (6-1) is the smallest school in the tournament, it was enough to fuel the Honkers to an opening-round victory. That and two-time all-Northern Section selection Meghan Weinrich.

“You’d think when they do that they’re thinking ‘we got this,’ ” said Martin. “We came out firing … they’re a great team but Meghan persevered.”

Weinrich poured in 33 points in the victory to send Willows into Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal against Nevada Union – a 49-46 double OT winner over Shasta on Thursday.

The senior who has 1,500 career points to her name never slowed down. She had two four-point plays, was 5 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc and had 24 points all by halftime for Willows to lead 35-27 at the break.

Foothill (4-1) never had an answer for her.

“That’s her every night,” Martin said. “She’s full-court all of the time, makes the plays under the basketball all by herself … it’s her natural instinct. She wants the ball, she hunts the ball down, she leads in rebounds, she leads in steals, she leads in everything because she wants the ball.”

Foothill High’s Isa Padilla dribbles the ball in front of Willows’ Makaila Horner Thursday night. Padilla scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss for the Cougars. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

It didn’t help that Foothill junior post Isa Padilla picked up two fouls in the first 2:14 of the game and had to sit – a huge blow to the Cougars after she opened the season as the tournament MVP last weekend.

Keeping Foothill in it was senior Melissa Mitchell with eight of the Cougars’ first 11 points to lead 11-5. But Willows stormed back with a 10-0 run, aided by Weinrich’s first four-point play, and the game was tied at 15 after one.

Back-to-back buckets in the paint from Padilla midway through the second kept it a one possession game. But Weinrich answered with her second four-point play, knocking down a trey from the top of the key while getting fouled on the follow through. Taylor Berens’ second chance bucket stretched the Honker lead to nine but Hayden Toney’s 3 late in the period made it an eight-point game at intermission.

Foothill’s Melissa Mitchell pushes the ball up the court with Willows’ Taylor Berens trailing during their game Thursday. Mitchell led the Cougars in scoring on the night with 13 points. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

Foothill tied it at 37 in the third with Mitchell and Hannah Loewen each knocking down a 3. But Mitchell went to the bench after picking up her fourth foul with the game tied. Willows capitalized without the third-year varsity standout, closing the period on a 10-0 run, five points coming from Weinrich.

It fell apart from there as the Cougars only managed two field goals over 12 minutes, 46 seconds in the second half, allowing Willows to take control, taking a double-digit lead for good with 3:05 left.

“Everyone was afraid of getting a foul. When you’re down like that you want to be aggressive and in their face but at the same time when everything is getting called you hold back a little,” Ahluwalia said.

Mitchell led Foothill in scoring with 14 points while Padilla added seven points and 10 rebounds and Emma Roach pitched in with seven points.

Willows—15-20-12-13—60
Foothill—15-12-10-10—47

Willows (7-1): Weinrich 33, Berens 15, Perisio 6, Garcia 3, Horner 2.
Foothill (4-1): Mitchell 13, Roach 7, Padilla 7, Matthews 6, Toney 5, Wallace 4, Loewen 3, Williford 2.
3-pointers—Willows 6: Weinrich (5), Berens (1); Foothill 6: Mitchell (3), Loewen (1), Roach (1), Toney (1).

TOURNAMENT UPDATE

Thursday Scores
Chico 66, Sacramento 54
Enterprise 60, Placer 50
Willows 60, Foothill 47
Nevada Union 49, Shasta 46 2OT
Friday games
Sacramento vs. Placer, 4 p.m.
Foothill vs. Shasta, 5:30 p.m.
Willows vs. Nevada Union, 7 p.m.
Enterprise vs. Chico, 8:30 p.m.

Enterprise 60, Placer 50

Enterprise’s Mianna Saechao fights with Placer’s Anne Lillis for a loose ball during Thursday’s opening round game in the 46th Harlan Carter at Foothill High School. Enterprise won 60-50. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

The Hornets led 28-18 at half and 40-35 after three quarters but the Hillmen could never make it a one possession game down the stretch despite Abby Shoff playing with foul trouble.

Enterprise shot 9-of-16 from the free throw line in the game and Natelie Mendes paced the team in scoring with 16 points. Shoff added 14 points while Kylie Mendes chipped in with 10 and Mianna Saechao finished with eight.

Placer was led by Anne Lillis’ 15 points while Sandy Dell scored nine points in the loss.

Enterprise faces Chico in the semifinals on Friday at 8:30 p.m. while Placer takes on Sacramento High Thursday at 4 p.m. in the consolation semifinal.

Nevada Union 49, Shasta 46 2OT

Shasta High’s Ava Jackson looks to pass Thursday night against Nevada Union in the Harlan Carter. Shasta lost 49-46 in double overtime. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

The Miners survived a poor shooting night from both teams, getting a pair of low post baskets from center Emerson Dunbar to start the second overtime.

The Wolves tied the game in double OT as Ava Jackson connected on a 3-pointer to knot the game at 46 with 1:06 remaining.

But the Wolves could get stops as Kendall Hughes hit the back end of two free throws and Aijah King all but iced the game with a coast-to-coast fast break layup as Isabelle Smith’s last-second heave from the right wing rimmed in and out and the Miners survived.

Dunbar and King each finished with 18 for Nevada Union, which draws Willows at 7 p.m. The Miners were 15-of-64 from the field on the night, while the Wolves  shot 12-of-63 from the field overall as Jackson paced the Wolves with 17 – on five triples and two free throws – and Smith added 14.

Chico 66, Sacramento 54

The Panthers used a 40-26 second-half outburst – including a 28-13 fourth-quarter edge – to shock the defending champion Dragons in the tournament-opening contest.

Sac High lead 28-26 at intermission, but Chico used stifling defense to force the Dragons into turnovers that led to Panther buckets.

Tessa Kinney scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth period for the Panthers as teammate Talesha Wilkerson added 10 of her 18 points in the final quarter.

Chico takes on Enterprise at 8:30 p.m. in a winner’s bracket contest.

Sacramento, which was led by Heaven Samayoa-Mathis’ 21 points plays Placer at 4 p.m. in the loser’s bracket.

T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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