COTTOWOOD – Any pressure the Eagles were feeling as the No. 1 seed in the Northern California region of the CIF State playoffs disappeared in the first few minutes.
West Valley held No. 16 Le Grand (near Merced) to three field goals in the first three quarters including a scoreless drought that lasted more than 9 minutes in a 60-25 thumping Tuesday night in the opening round of the CIF State Division V playoffs. All coverage is presented by Redding Rancheria.
The Eagles (24-8) built a 27-7 lead at half time and never looked back to advance to host No. 8 Portola to the NorCal quarterfinals.
“We were a little surprised but grateful for the opportunity,” said West Valley Maddie Steele about earning the top seed. “There were a little (nerves) here and there but I think we’ve come together and that helped a lot.”
Every West Valley player who saw the court scored in the game. Sophomore Madalynn Bassett led the Eagles with 15 points, knocking down three 3s in the game.
Bassett followed Jasee Heacock’s layup with a 3-pointer and Steele went to work as the Eagles’ floor general. She drove the lane for a layup and set up Rose Matthews and Hannah Wayne inside for back-to-back baskets to put West Valley up 19-5 early in the second quarter.
“We talked about starting fast and letting them know early that we thought we were the better team,” West Valley coach Lenny Ehn said. “We wanted to put that doubt in their mind to get on them early. After that the girls played loose and had fun.”
Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports
The Bulldogs managed one field goal midway through the second quarter to trail 20-7 and didn’t make another bucket from the floor until 6:25 left in the fourth. Standout player Alexa Ultreras picked up three fouls in the first half, allowing West Valley to get more separation.
The Eagles stretched its 20-point lead to 35 by the end of the third quarter. West Valley led 45-10 entering the fourth quarter, bringing the total points allowed across the past four quarters to nine – dating back to Saturday’s Northern Section D-IV championship against U-Prep when the Eagles held them scoreless in the final period.
West Valley emptied its bench for most of the fourth, pushing the lead to 37 points but never reaching the 40-point threshold to initiate the running clock.
Sophomore Kaylee Moore hit a 3-pointer off the bench in her varsity debut and the West Valley posts started getting in on the 3-point challenge with Matthews and Arika Baxter draining 3s late.
“I think we feed off everyone’s energy,” Steele said. “Our bench pushes the players and we can all feed off of that. Everyone got an opportunity tonight.”
West Valley welcomes Northern Section foe Portola Thursday at 7 p.m. with a trip to the NorCal semifinals on the line.
#1 West Valley 60, #16 La Grand 25
Le Grand 5-2-3-15—25
West Valley 15-12-18-15—60
LeGrand (17-12): Ultreras 11, Garcia 6, Gonzalez 6, Avalos 2.
West Valley (24-8): Bassett 15, Baxter 7, Arrowsmith 6, Matthews 6, Steele 6, Cramer 4, Johnson 3, Gilliam 3, Moore 3, Proscher 2, Heacock 2, Wayne 2, Brown 1.
3-pointers – Le Grand 2 (Garcia, Gonzalez); West Valley 10 (Bassett 3, Arrowsmith 2, Johnson, Matthews, Moore, Steele, Baxter).
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