Much like last year and the year before that, the Sierra Foothill League girls basketball title will be decided at the end of the season with a game between Nevada Union and Del Oro.
The Lady Golden Eagles beat the Lady Miners 59-45 at the end of the 2011-12 season to deny NU the title and notch Del Oro’s seventh straight league championship.
NU finally toppled Del Oro’s reign at the top of the SFL last season, beating them 70-67 in the second to last game of the regular season to claim its first ever SFL girls basketball title.
And here we are again. It’s the tail end of the season and wouldn’t you know it, NU and Del Oro are the two teams left at the top.
“I think our experience over the last couple seasons will help,” NU head coach John McDaniel said. “We’ve been there before and that experience has given the girls confidence.”
The Lady Miners (21-4, 9-0 SFL) have already clinched a share of the championship, handing Del Oro it’s only league loss 71-50 Jan. 22 at Albert Ali Gymnasium. But, Del Oro (19-7, 8-1 SFL) has an opportunity to grab half of the league title if it can win tonight.
The Lady Miners have taken quite nicely to the role of reigning league champions, going 9-0 during their title defense, winning all nine by at least 14 points.
They lead the league in points per league game with 72.2, they are second defensively (Del Oro is No. 1), allowing just 45.6 points, and have one of the best players in the SFL in Sydney Porter.
In her senior year, Porter is averaging a league-high 19.6 points per game to go with 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 2.2 assists.
But, the big difference between NU’s dominating win over Del Oro earlier this season and the game tonight; is the venue. Del Oro protects its home court vigorously.
The Lady Golden Eagles are 7-1 at home this season and 9-0 at home in SFL games over the last two seasons.
“It is very hard to win in that gym,” McDaniel said. “It’s a different atmosphere. It’s a little darker. (Del Oro) doesn’t even score that well there compared to their road games. It’s a weird place to score and I think that always works for the home team.”
Porter said before the league season started that she knew it would come down to NU and Del Oro in the SFL.
“It’s weird because Del Oro isn’t a rival for some of the other teams,” Porter said. “But, for us, it’s always been Del Oro. Beat Del Oro, especially at their home. It’s one of the most sought after things is to beat them on their court, and we did that my sophomore year, and hopefully we can do it again.
The last time NU beat the Lady Golden Eagles at Del Oro was Jan. 27, 2012. That was the last time any SFL team beat Del Oro on their home court.
In fact, since 2005 the Lady Golden Eagles are 108-12 at home overall and 55-1 against SFL competition on their home court. The one loss being to NU in 2012.
NU has traveled well this season going 13-3 in either road or neutral games.
Despite beating Del Oro by 21-points earlier this season, the Lady Miners are not looking past the Lady Golden Eagles, said McDaniel.
“Our girls know (Del Oro) is one of the best teams in the Sacramento area.” he said. “They don’t take any opponent lightly.”
With both teams having already clinched playoff berths, tonight’s game will be about playoff seeding, pride and how many teams get to hang a banner.
“It’s one of those things you don’t want to share,” McDaniel said of the SFL title.
The game tips at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Del Oro.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.