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Hot start propels Shasta girls to 60-48 road win at PV

Shasta High's Ella Rodriguez goes up for a shot over Pleasant Valley's Karli Lindquist Tuesday night in Chico. Rodriguez scored 14 points in Shasta's 60-48 win. (Eddie Saltzman/Chico Enterprise-Record)

CHICO — A topsy-turvy Eastern Athletic League girls basketball race took another turn on Tuesday.

Visiting Shasta traveled to face Pleasant Valley, still smarting from a loss to rival Chico High on Friday and looking to regroup in the league standings. Instead, the Wolves got the early jump, and it carried them for the remaining three quarters.

Shasta opened the game on a 15-0 run, unleashing a stingy backcourt press on PV while looking locked in on the offensive end, keyed by Ava Jackson’s nine points in the opening quarter. PV’s Cassidy King ended the run when she rolled in a layup with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the quarter. But the damage was done, with Shasta leading 17-2 at the end of the first.

“We knew that we had to pressure and get steals, and that set the tone tonight,” Shasta head coach Alicia Dahl said. “It set their offense off a little bit.”

Though the Vikings would rally to within seven points in the second quarter and match the same margin later in the third, Shasta (12-7, 2-2 EAL) maintained its lead from start to finish and won 60-48. Shasta’s Isabelle Smith led all scorers with 19 points, with Jackson adding 16 points and Ella Rodriguez 14 points.

Ella Rodriguez (12) of Shasta takes a shot over Pleasant Valley’s Cassidy King (3) in the first half at Varley gym in Chico Tuesday night (Photo by Eddie Saltzman)

Kylie Matthews scored eight of her 12 points in the final quarter to lead the Vikings (8-10, 2-2 EAL) and Mallory Moore tallied 11 points.

“We weren’t awake right away,” PV head coach Bob Paddock said. “We started in a zone and they got open spots … they shot well, really well, to start out with. Offensively, we just couldn’t buy a bucket. We missed layups, putbacks, the easy ones. (If) we don’t miss those, maybe it’s 17-12, 17-10, but 17-2 — tough one to come back (from). Not just the aspect of the math, but just mentally — we were shocked.”

The Vikings closed the first half on a 7-0 run, which included a King 3-pointer from straight on followed by a Matthews layup, to trail 26-19 at the break.

But out of halftime, Shasta’s Rodriguez scored on a layup and Jackson drained a 3, putting PV back in a double-digit hole.

Ava Jackson (3) of Shasta puts up an open jumper in the first half with Viking defenders Cassidy King (3), Chae Ford (13), and Mallory Moore (10) watching (Photo by Eddie Saltzman)

The Vikings, however, rallied again with under three minutes left in the third, with baskets from Matthews, Christiane Carlisle and a steal in transition from King putting PV back within seven, 34-27.

But the Wolves, just as they did all night, had an answer. Julianna Flores earned a pair of trips to the free-throw line, knocking down all four attempts, before Rodriguez added a basket, and Smith added a dagger 3-pointer that gave the Wolves their largest lead to that point, 45-29, entering the final quarter.

“We’ve been talking about teamwork a lot lately,” Dahl said. “We have to find the hot hand. It’s not always going to be our go-to scorer, and so whoever has the hot hand is who we need to find. It doesn’t matter who scores, and that’s what we were focusing on.”

The result, combined with Foothill’s win over Chico on Tuesday, moved Shasta, PV and those two aforementioned teams into a four-way tie for second place in the EAL at 2-2. Enterprise (13-9, 3-0) stands alone in first place. PV will draw Enterprise on the road Friday.

Mallory Moore (10) and Kylie Matthews (right) of Pleasant Valley put the defensive pressure on Shasta’s Ella Rodriguez (center) in the first half at Pleasant Valley’s Varley Gym Tuesday night (Photo by Eddie Saltzman)

“It just makes it tougher,” Paddock said. “This is the hard way to do it. But like I told the girls, the season’s not over. It’s league. It’s going to be a grind.”

Shasta, meanwhile, will gladly take any road win it can get in the EAL.

“It’s huge,” Dahl said of the win. “We need to take that momentum and go with it on our next games and also when PV comes up to us (on) senior night (Feb. 11). We want to take that momentum we did here and take it to them up there.”

Shasta 60, Pleasant Valley 48
Shasta * 17 * 9 * 19 * 15 * — * 60
PV * 2 * 17 * 10 * 19 * — * 48
Shasta — Smith 19, Jackson 16, Rodriguez 14, Flores 6, Currier 3, Patton 2.
Pleasant Valley — Matthews 12, Moore 11, King 9, Carlisle 7, Lindquist 4, Horn 1.
3-point goals — Shasta 5 (Jackson 3, Smith 2), Pleasant Valley 3 (King 2, Moore).

STANDINGS
Team EAL, Overall
Enterprise 4-0, 13-9
Chico 2-2, 12-9
Shasta 2-2, 12-7
Foothill 2-2, 10-8
PV 2-2, 8-10
Red Bluff 0-4, 6-13

Will Denner is a sports reporter at the Chico Enterprise-Record. A native of Portland, Oregon, Will graduated from the University of Oregon in 2016.

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