Falcons fly back to ARCO
GALT – For nearly 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon, Jake Kelly and the Sacramento Waldorf girls basketball team appeared poised for a return trip to ARCO Arena.
Down the stretch and into overtime, Forest Lake Christian seized the momentum, and that trip to ARCO right along with it, as the Falcons rallied for a 78-73 Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff semifinal victory at Galt High’s Warrior Gymnasium.
Taylor Kilgore scored eight of her 14 points in overtime to help three-time defending section champion Forest Lake Christian (23-6) knock off No. 1 Sacramento Waldorf (26-4) in a rematch of last year’s section championship game at ARCO.
Forest Lake Christian, seeded No. 5 coming into the playoffs, plays Modesto Christian for the Division V title Friday at 4 p.m. at ARCO Arena.
Modesto Christian defeated Capital Christian in the other semifinal Tuesday night at Galt, 49-47.
“This really is special for our four seniors. Their goal all along has been to go back there for a fourth time and here they are,” Forest Lake Christian coach Steve Kellar said, referring to the quartet of Jessica Lockhart, MacKenzie Deneen, Brittany Allen and Kilgore.
To do so, the Falcons had to get past their Central Valley Christian League rival, a team that had already beaten them twice this season, and they had to overcome a dazzling offensive display by Kelly – who led all scorers with 34 points, including eight 3-pointers.
Forest Lake Christian countered with a balanced attack in which five players scored in double figures. Kylie Miraldi led the way with 21 points and 15 points, while Jessica Clough scored 15, Katie Fletcher and Kilgore added 14 each and Tess Reed 10.
“It was such a sweet victory,” said Miraldi, who scored 19 points in the second half. “It felt so great to work in such unity and to play to our full potential and ability, especially after we had lost to them twice already.
“Three times a charm,” she added, flashing a wide grin.
The Falcons remained confident even after they fell behind 36-29 at halftime.
“I don’t think we were down at halftime. Seven points in basketball is nothing; we knew what we had to do,” Miraldi said. “If we continued to step up and play our game, we knew we could beat this team.”
The Falcons used their height advantage to outrebound the Waves, 47-24, and Miraldi was a large reason for that. The 6-foot-1 sophomore collected 11 offensive rebounds in the game – eight in the second half, leading directly to 15 points.
Sacramento Waldorf still led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter – 46-36 after Kelly buried a 3-pointer from NBA range beyond the top of the key with 3:58 showing on the clock – before Forest Lake Christian mounted its comeback. The Falcons pulled to within 49-48 at the end of the third and got a break early in the fourth after Kelly picked up her fourth personal foul. They still missed three different opportunities to move on top before Kilgore found Clough open on the left wing for a 3-pointer that made it 61-60 with 2:00 left in regulation.
The Falcons were up 64-60 after Clough sank a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left. But Kelly converted one of two free throws and then, with a defender in her face, banked a 3-pointer off the glass with 18 seconds left to tie the score at 64 and force overtime.
Even then, Kellar said the Falcons were confident.
“I felt we went into overtime, the momentum was on our side and the fouls were on our side, especially the fouls,” Kellar said.
The four-minute overtime was Kilgore time. The 5-10 senior guard drove into the lane and hit a shot that gave the Falcons a 66-64 lead, and they never trailed again. Kilgore added a pair of free throws, Miraldi scored on a putback and Clough drove for a left-handed layup that made it 72-67 with 2:00 to go – and the Falcons were clearly in control.
Fletcher, a sophomore guard, and Reed, a 6-1 sophomore post player, helped keep Forest Lake Christian in the game in the first half. Fletcher scored all 14 of her points during the first two periods, including four 3-pointers. Reed scored seven in the first half and finished the game with eight rebounds overall.
Kelly, a 5-foot-6 senior guard, scored 18 in the first half.
“You have to give Jake credit,” Kellar said. “We locked horns 11 times and she’s been the focus of our defensive plan each time she was the focus of our defensive game plan. Today, we ran an inverted diamond-and-two and it worked pretty well. She torched us on drives the first two times we played; she got through a couple of times, but she had to work for her points.”
To contact Dave Price, e-mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
Forest Lake Christian 78, Sacramento Waldorf 73, OT
Forest Lake Christian 12 17 19 16 14 – 78
Sacramento Waldorf 15 21 13 15 9 – 73
Forest Lake Christian (78): Clough 5 4-5 15, Deneen 1 0-0 2, Miraldi 9 3-4 21, Allen 1 0-0 2, Fletcher 5 0-0 14, Kilgore 3 7-8 14, Reed 4 2-4 10, Totals 28 16-21 78.
Sacramento Waldorf (73): Roberts 2 0-0 5, Obregon 4 4-4 14, Dicus 2 3-6 7, Cardenas 1 0-0 2, Lui 0 3-4 3, Kelly 11 4-5 34, Pappenberger 4 0-0 8; Totals 24 14-19 73.
Three-point goals: Forest Lake Christian 6 (Clough 1, Fletcher 4, Kilgore 1); Sacramento Waldorf 11 (Kelly 8, Obregon 2, Roberts 1). Team fouls: Forest Lake Christian 14, Sacramento Waldorf 17. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
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