PALO CEDRO – One week ago, Redding Christian’s girls basketball team was limping into 2020.
The Lions dealt with injuries and had the daunting task of facing multiple upper division opponents in the Lady Hornet Classic.
Instead of crumbling at the challenging task, the Lions believed in themselves. And let the confidence from being a runner-up in the tournament spill over into Wednesday night where Redding Christian pulled away from Fall River for a 51-38 victory in a critical Division VI matchup.
“I keep preaching that we are competitors and want to out-compete every team we play,” said Lions coach Scott Alexander. “They’re living on that – the idea we’re going to out-hustle and out-work everyone.”
Redding Christian (7-5) never trailed in the game but also didn’t get a cushion until the second quarter. Fall River keyed on the Lions’ 5-foot-11 center Sammie Wunner and sharp-shooping senior guard Sadie Alexander to force other players to step up. Cluttering the paint with a zone defense allowed for junior wing Aleah Matos and her younger sister Bailey Matos to thrive.
“We didn’t want (Wunner) to score,” Fall River coach Tarron Corder said. “If she gets it inside and misses she can get it back and we’ll foul. We’ll pay for it twice.”
“We tried to take away the inside and not let (Courtney Jones) drive but she’s too crafty and used the high pick to get through us. Once she got in the center of the defense, she could go anywhere.”
Jones penetrated the zone defense and set up both of the Matos sisters from downtown. Wunner hit a baseline jumper, Kaylee Jones and Courtney Jones each had a layup and Aleah Matos drained a trey at the buzzer to cap a 16-4 run to close out the half with a 28-14 lead.
The Matos’ outscored the Bulldogs between the two – Aleah with 10 points and Bailey with five – to give Redding Christian a commanding lead. Aleah finished with a game-high 19 points.
“Both those girls can shoot, both can score,” Scott Alexander said. “I’ll let Aleah shoot it every time out there and Bailey the same thing.”
Fall River continued to let it fly from deep but Redding Christian’s tenacity on rebounding limited second chances. Courtney Jones dished to Aleah Matos once more in the third for a 3 and the Lions kept the Bulldogs at bay in the period to lead by 10 entering the final stanza.
A 3-ball from Natalie Osborne midway through the fourth cut the lead to nine but the deficit was too much to overcome. Kaylee Jones hit a jump shot from the elbow and Sadie Alexander dished to a cutting Wunner inside for 2 before turning a steal into a left-handed fastbreak layup in the final minute.
Fall River’s Marissa Leighton scored a team-high 11 points.
Wunner scored seven points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Sadie Alexander scored nine points and Kaylee Jones scored seven points to go with eight boards.
Fall River opens Shasta Cascade League play at home against Mount Shasta on Saturday while Redding Christian plays each of the next three days in the East Nicolaus Tournament.
Fall River 8-6-13-11—38
Redding Christian 11-17-9-14—51
Fall River (9-4): Leighton 11, Osborne 7, Easly 6, Pevehouse 6, Robbins 4, Gregory 2, Royal 2.
Redding Christian (7-5): A. Matos 19, Alexander 9, Wunner 7, K. Jones 7, B. Matos 5, C. Jones 4.
3-pointers—Fall River 1: Osborne (1); Redding Christian 4: A. Matos (3), B. Matos (1).
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