Shasta College sophomore point guard Jordan Martinez dribbles the ball against College of the Redwoods Saturday at home. The Knights won 65-59 to stay in first place in the Golden Valley Conference standings. (Photo by T.J. Holmes/Shasta County Sports)
Jordan Martinez and the core sophomores that make up Shasta College’s women’s basketball team have been patiently waiting for their time to shine.
It hasn’t been an easy road but the Knights are finally standing on top of the Golden Valley Conference with a 5-1 mark thanks to a 65-59 victory Saturday night over visiting College of the Redwoods in the Sierra Pacific Industries Women’s College Game of the Week.
The experience is really starting to show as the games get tougher and seeing teams for a second time around. Martinez has been the catalyst for their success from her point guard position, distributing to find the open teammate, providing energy and scoring when she needs to, Shasta College coach Jerry Brown said.
And it put the Knights in position to make a run at the GVC title.
“Looking at (the sophomore), it’s like they’re saying ‘OK, it’s my chance now,’” Brown said. “Jordan might have started as a freshman but it wasn’t really her team because of the dominant sophomores we had in Aubrie Wall, Kilee Hannan and Julia Hill. This year she’s taken ownership of the team, this is her team to run and she’s coring or not, she does what it takes to win.”
Redwoods, who is coached by a former Knight and player for Brown, gave Shasta everything it could handle early on, putting up 22 and providing energy against an unmotivated Knight squad.
“They play harder against us than they play against anyone,” Brown said. “They were ready and give them credit. As much as I told the kids, they didn’t believe it. They wanted us.”
Shasta took it to heart between periods and held Redwoods to five points in the second quarter, turning a seven-point deficit into a 30-27 halftime advantage. Keeley Tuggle hit a 3-pointer and a transition layup and Kayla Bonomini made all three foul shots in a cold-shooting second period.
“We didn’t come out as hard as we should have, our mental game was not there,” said Martinez, who entered the day with the fourth-most assists in the state.
Shasta found its groove in the third, exploding for 22 points in the quarter, pulling away with a 12-3 run that had Tuggle and Martinez each hit a shot from downtown. Freshman Terra Crawford contributed solid minutes off the bench in place of Mari Fernandez due to foul trouble. Crawford scored the final eight points of the third for Shasta to lead 52-40 and opened with more buckets in the fourth, tallying 12 of her team-high 16 points in a five-minute stretch.
“I think she’s becoming mentally stronger and tougher with the ball and looking for her shot and going for it now,” Martinez said of Crawford.
Shasta led by double digits for the majority of the fourth. Justyse Cooper’s and-1 with 3:34 left put the Knights ahead 63-51 but they had to survive a scare before closing it out.
Redwoods hit a 3 and started making free throws. Trailing by six, Bobbie Purify missed the back-end of a pair of foul shots and the Corsairs couldn’t get the shot to fall on the second chance opportunity. Purify got it within a four-point game on a pair of freebies with 34 seconds left but Bonomini closed it out with two foul shots to hold off the Corsairs.
“I’m proud of these girls, if you would have said to me at the start of the year we’d be 5-1 in conference play, I would have seen that coming,” Brown said. “But that’s a credit to them and their hard work to get to this point.”
Cooper contributed a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Bonomini scored 13 points and Tuggle added 10.
Shasta hosts Butte College Saturday at 2 p.m.
Shasta College 65, Redwoods 59
Redwoods: Purify 22, Johnson 10, Murray 9, Kartes 8, Northern 6, Katri 4.
Shasta: Crawford 16, Cooper 15, Bonomini 13, Tuggle 10, Martinez 6, Fernandez 5.
3-pointers—Redwoods 7 (Murray 3, Johnson 3, Kartes); Shasta 3 (Tuggle 2, Martinez).
Team GVC, Overall
Shasta 5-1, 12-9
Siskiyous 5-2, 15-7
Lassen 3-3, 14-9
Feather River 3-3, 12-8
Butte 3-3, 9-10
Redwoods 0-6, 5-14